When a leader gets passionate or annoyed,
followers will assume the subject matter is
important. This focuses employee attention on
the organization’s priorities (e.g., business
metrics, patient-centeredness, religious ties, etc.).
2 Reaction to crisis. A crisis exposes and tests the strength of a person’s or company’s beliefs and convictions. Deep-seated values
come to the forefront. Do they focus on
self-preservation or work to help others first?
The high emotional level in a crisis makes us
remember what happens more than at less
chaotic times. In a crisis, leaders’ actions are
remembered and taken as a true example of
who they really are.
3 Role modeling. People carefully listen to and watch what their leaders say and do.
If these conflict, actions are believed over words.
Assuming people believe a leader’s behavior is
“right,” they emulate it. By that logic, leaders
should strive to behave in a manner they desire
in their followers.
4 Allocation of rewards. Rewards, such as praise or promotions, are assumed to
reflect desired behavior and results. If a behavioral change is sought and an employee gets
paid extra for achieving results with an alternate
behavior, others will assume that the alternate
is acceptable. To effect change, the leader needs
to reprimand, not reward.
5 Selection and dismissal. Recruitment, promotion, and dismissal criteria are
critical for choosing who does what and also
forms of reward and punishment. Criteria should
consider personality fit and competence, so that
cultural aspects of the organization are included
in selection and dismissal.
1 Structure design. “Function follows form” and “we create our organizations; then they
create us.” The organization hierarchy affects
how it operates. To change an organization,
change its structure.
2 System and procedure design. The operational systems by which an organiza-
tion is run affect how people think. Examples
include budgeting, IT, performance reviews, and
professional development. These
can be designed to ensure align-
ment with desired cultural
3 Facilities. Office layout often reflects (subconsciously or
organization’s values. This may
involve whose office is near whom
and differentiation in offices, as
well as other benefits individuals
are given on site.
4 Stories, legends, and myths. The stories people tell in an
organization reflect the values and
beliefs of the culture. Changing the
culture requires changing the
stories. The more they’re retold,
the more powerful they become,
gaining support and credibility.
5 Formal statements. These are the organization’s public
persona. They dictate actions and
decisions from asset allocation to
Do as I Say, Not as I Do
When leaders’ actions result in a culture that
stands opposed to stated core values, bad
outcomes result. Take, for example, the fall of
Enron. 9 Instead of reinforcing stated core values,
leadership actions established a contrary culture.
The behaviors and attitudes of Enron’s employees,
led by their CEO, stood opposed to the stated
doctrines. Enron leadership created a statement
of core values, but their actions shaped a culture
that did not reflect those standards.
Employees take their behavior cues from the
culture, not from stated core values. Culture
is influenced by the actions of leaders, who
strengthen it by consistent commitment. Lack
of support or misalignments among core values,
organizational culture, and leadership behavior
will void desired, positive effects from stated
core values. Support and reinforcement of the
culture by gathering employee input (surveys,
listening sessions, town halls, etc.) help gauge
whether employees really get and buy into what
leadership wants. Employees deemed not to be
an optimal cultural fit should have a mutually
The core values of the hugely successful Zappo’s company are worthy
X Deliver “WOW” through service
X Embrace and drive change
X Create fun (and a little weirdness)
X Be adventurous, creative, and
X Pursue growth and learning
X Build open and honest relation-
ships with communication
X Build a positive team and family
X Do more with less
X Be passionate and determined
X Be humble