10 Leadership Strategies for Creating a Thriving Culture

The link between culture and organizational performance is no longer a discussion—it is empirical and well documented. Without exception, organizational culture either propels or drags down performance. A new report from TRANSEACH explores ten essential principles to effectively manage and leverage organizational culture in alignment with strategic objectives.

June 6, 2024 – Company culture is the shared values, attitudes, behaviors, and standards that make up a work environment. It is about the experience people have at work and how that experience aligns with the external brand and messaging of the company. Culture is what creates the day-to-day experience at a company.

In addition, in today’s dynamic business landscape, the interplay between organizational culture and strategy is more vital than ever, according to a recent report from TRANSEARCH International. While the adage “culture eats strategy for breakfast” has gained popularity, a deeper understanding reveals that the relationship between culture and strategy is nuanced and multifaceted, the study said. TRANSEACH explores ten essential principles to effectively manage and leverage organizational culture in alignment with strategic objectives.

1. Align culture and strategy.

‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ is interesting and provocative… but it’s wrong.

Foster a culture that aligns with the strategic objectives of the organization, the TRANSEARCH report explains. “Actively shape values, norms, and behaviors that support the execution of the chosen strategy,” it said. “Learn how to develop strategies that are culturally coherent and leverage cultural strengths.”

2. Manage culture from the outside-in.

The cultural crisis… You have to manage culture from the outside-in.

The TRANSEARCH report says to recognize external influences on organizational culture (such as market trends, societal shifts, and customer expectations) and actively manage those influences. Adapt and shape the internal culture in response to these external factors, ensuring the organization remains relevant and resilient.

3. Manage and measure a learning-focused culture.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

“Create a learning-focused culture, and measure and enhance it. Set up systems to evaluate cultural aspects, collect feedback, and monitor key indicators,” the TRANSEARCH report said. “Foster ongoing improvement and adaptability among your team members.”

4. Understand that culture is complex and interconnected.

Culture is a system.

Culture is made up of many parts like values, beliefs, behaviors, and artifacts. Learn to manage and influence these parts. TRANSEARCH says to understand how different aspects of the organization work together to create the culture as a whole.

Related: Designing a Winning Corporate Culture

5. Ensure the organization’s purpose and values resonate with diverse groups.

Not every organization has a compelling purpose. The organization’s values have to connect with each of the demographic groups.

“Recognize diversity and create inclusive value systems that engage all employees and align with their varied perspectives and needs,” the TRANSEARCH report said. “Foster inclusivity and diversity, understand the needs and perspectives of different groups, and articulate values that are meaningful and relevant to everyone.”

Shaping a Culture of Inclusion
Inclusion, one of the hottest topics in business right now, is not just another buzzword or trend. It is fundamental to delivering on your corporate strategy. Every year Walking the Talks looks at a critical business issue which will impact the creation and management of corporate cultures, talking to C-suite leaders and adding their own perspective as a consultancy focused entirely on culture. Let’s takes a look at this year’s study!

6. Prioritize talent management and retention.

Talent management is the engine of possibility. Who you hire, retain and promote is critical.

The TRANSEARCH report also explains that companies must focus on talent management that reflects your desired culture: hire people who share your values, foster diversity and inclusion, plan for future leaders who embody your culture, and keep top talent engaged and retained.

7. Ensure the organization’s design meets changing demands.

Yesterday’s organization design is a dysfunctional model.

Traditional organizational structures may no longer be effective, according to the TRANSEARCH report. The firm says to be willing to adapt and evolve the organization’s design to better support the desired culture and strategic objectives: restructure teams; revise reporting structures; facilitate collaboration, innovation, and agility.

8. Understand, and engage with, the informal culture.

The informal culture cannot be simply set aside.

“Understanding and managing the informal aspects of the organization’s culture is crucial,” the TRANSEARCH report said. “Acknowledge and engage with the informal networks and social dynamics that influence employee behavior and attitudes. Create opportunities for employees to have autonomy and choice within the organization.”

Related: How Job Seekers Can Assess Company Culture

9. Empower middle managers.

The Middle Kingdom have to be part of the solution.

Middle managers play a crucial role in translating top-level strategies into actionable plans and influencing employee behavior on a day-to-day basis. TRANSEARCH says to engage middle managers to ensure alignment and buy-in throughout the organization. Ensure they are equipped and motivated to drive change and uphold cultural values within their teams.

10. Adopt a holistic approach to change.

You can’t change the organization one team at a time.

“Approach culture as a holistic system and work to align all its components towards common goals and values,” the TRANSEARCH report said. “Create a shared vision for the desired culture, communicate it consistently across the organization, and provide resources and support for implementation.”

This article explores themes and concepts from content by John O. Burdett, founder of Orxestra Inc. He has extensive international experience as a senior executive. As a consultant he has worked in more than 40 countries for organizations that are household names. Mr. Burdett has worked on organization culture for some of the world’s largest organizations. His ongoing partnership with TRANSEARCH International means that his thought leading intellectual property, in any one year, supports talent management in many hundreds of organizations around the world.

TRANSEARCH is a global search firm with representation in all of the major economic capitals, with about 60 offices in over 40 countries. It was founded in 1982 and today completes more than 1,500 senior executive search assignments a year. Its global client base is in the financial services, technology, consumer and retail, life sciences, and industrial and resources sectors.

Related: The Importance of Culture on Today’s Businesses

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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