Is Your Leadership Team Sabotaging Your Culture Transformation?

Metaphor of someone dealing with sabotage in the workplaceHave you ever felt like a lone salmon swimming upstream against the current when trying to make change in your organization? Meet Joanna Barclay. For over 3 decades she’s worked with leadership teams engaged in business transformation. She is the author of Conscious Culture – How to Build a High Performing Workplace through Values, Ethics and Leadership.

During a recent virtual fireside chat, she shared her insights on a key aspect to transformational success: how to prevent your leadership team from sabotaging your culture transformation.

Carol: For business transformation to succeed, you always talk about how it needs to be led by a conscious leader. What is a conscious leader?

Joanna: A conscious leader is someone who knows who they are and lives according to their values. By doing this, they are healthier, happier, higher performing and have a positive impact on the world. Unconscious leaders tend to be misaligned with their values and as a result find themselves performing poorly, suffering from disease and dis-ease. Corporations need conscious leaders to build a conscious organization that is values driven.

Carol: Over the past 3 decades, you’ve facilitated an amazing number of transformations. What would you say is the most important step that most leaders miss when trying to shift their organizations?

Joanna: The most important step is to build leadership team commitment for transformation. Leaders need to role model what the transformation is going to be so they need to be on board and understand why the change is required.

Carol: What technique do you use to help your clients build that leadership team commitment?

Joanna: We start by doing an environmental scan with key stakeholders, both external and internal, which helps to unearth the drivers for change. There needs to be a compelling reason why people are going to change.  This exercise brings the leadership team together, understanding why they need culture transformation. You need culture alignment for strategic success. So if anything in their strategies or their business initiatives need to change, their culture probably needs to change with it, and that means culture transformation.

Carol: Can you describe a situation of building leadership team effectiveness for transformation?

Joanna: I had a CIO who was looking to create better business outcomes. Our environmental scan showed that he wasn’t being invited to the table with his peers. Clients just didn’t want to do business with them. He had created a Client Service Excellence committee but it wasn’t making any progress. His leadership team was disengaged and that attitude permeated down the management ranks. People weren’t even showing up to meetings.

Carol: Ouch, sounds like challenging situation. What happened next?

Joanna: We did a Small Group Cultural Assessment with the leadership team. We discovered that excellence, leadership and ethics were the top 3 personal values of the team. However, when asked to describe the current culture, none of these three key values showed up. The leader was too busy telling them what to do, instead of tapping into their natural passion to lead. As a result they had disengaged. Another key element that the assessment exposed was the lack of clarity on mission and purpose.

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