Today’s blog comes from executive coach and leadership consultant Julie Diamond, the founder of Diamond Leadership. With over 30 years of experience in the field of human and organizational change, Julie is the author of Power: A User’s Guide, and a co-founder of the Power² Leaderlab, a leadership program for women leaders. At Fama, we’ve discussed how power operates in the workplace, and how abuses of power undermine business success. In today’s post, Julie adds another dimension to this discussion, emphasizing that your success comes down to the day-to-day behaviors of your organization’s leadership.
We know there is a deep connection between culture and organizational outcomes. When culture is done right, it unleashes tremendous energy, harnessing a diverse set of talents towards shared organizational goals. But a culture that is hostile and dysfunctional cripples the organization’s capacity and drives away talent.
While each and every employee plays a role in creating an organization’s culture, it’s the leadership that has the power to make or break the workplace culture. Why? Because “leaders bring the weather.” The things leaders say and do signal to the entire organization what behaviors are permitted, and their impact on employees is so great that the behavior of company leaders is often mimicked throughout an organization.
While the above are flagrant and scandalous examples of leadership gone awry, organizational culture can also be eroded by subtle, seemingly insignificant behaviors, off-the-cuff comments, and even nonverbal behaviors. Leaders don’t have to yell, scream, or engage in unethical behavior to undermine culture. In fact, most of what constitutes culture is tacit and subtle. It comes down to two questions: how does it feel, and how do people relate to each other?
These may seem like soft and fuzzy questions, but how things feel on a day to day basis is critical to people’s ability to do good work and, therefore, to the organization’s ability to meet its goals. As an executive coach, I’m often asked by my clients how they can create cultures of engagement, inclusion, and high performance. The answer? Learn how to effectively use your power.