How to Beat Scrutiny During a Culture Change

post from S. Chris Edmonds:
When leading a culture change initiative,
scrutiny of senior leaders’ plans, decisions, and actions increases heavily. I
tell senior leaders that they’ll never be able to run a yellow light at a
traffic signal in their town again! Yes, even senior leader behavior away from
the workplace is scrutinized.
Consequently, it is extremely important for
senior leaders to model their declared values – every day, with every
Too often senior leaders “manage by
announcements,” publishing a set of expectations or rules that they declare are
to be embraced from that moment forward, yet they do not actively demonstrate
those expectations themselves, measure how well others embrace those
expectations, etc. No wonder leader credibility suffers in many organizations.
Only when senior leaders model desired valued behaviors will the rest of the
organization trust those leaders, follow those leaders,
and model those desired valued behaviors themselves.
Here’s a great example. A client shared an
interesting perspective about his boss, a gentleman he’d been working with for
over a year. His boss – let’s call him Tom – is a fabulous champion of the
company’s culture change process. Tom has effectively led culture change
initiatives at his last two organizations and has begun work to refine the
culture of his current organization. Tom started with his senior leadership
team by sharing his leadership point of view – his philosophy of leadership –
and his values. He asked his direct reports to hold him accountable to those
values and the valued behaviors Tom has defined.
In addition, Tom chartered his senior
leadership team to refine that group’s purpose, values, behaviors, and norms to
ensure everything they do helps the business grow and succeed and is consistent
with their agreements.
The client’s comment unintentionally described
the scrutiny Tom is under. He said, “I keep waiting for Tom to be
inconsistent.” Two things are clear –
  1. Tom has
    really put himself on the line by declaring his values and asking his
    staff to hold him accountable for those values.
  2. For over a
    year, Tom hasn’t yet acted in conflict with his declared values. That’s
    really powerful!
Does Your Culture Serve Customers, Employees,
and Stakeholders Equally Well?
If the existing culture is not serving
customers, employees, or stakeholders consistently, it may be time for a
Senior leaders can refine their organization’s
existing culture by doing three things:

First, clarify performance
expectations and gain employee agreement on those expectations.

Second, define values in
behavioral terms and gain employee agreement to demonstrate those behaviors.

Finally, hold themselves and all
organizational leaders, managers, and
staff accountable for both performance and values.
Most senior leaders have not experienced
successful culture change. Even fewer, across the globe, have led successful
culture change. The journey to become a high performing, values-aligned organization is both intense and
gratifying. Senior leaders may not be aware of it, but they are both the
sponsors and drivers of the organization’s current culture. When you are ready,
we’re here to help.
Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a
15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting
company, The Purposeful
Culture Group,
 in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant
with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of
seven books, including Amazon best sellers The
Culture Engine
 and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn
from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at
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