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6 Factors Influencing Leadership and Culture

Organizational leadership has changed dramatically over the last three decades because of various factors: technology, workplace demographics, and expectations of what a “leader” should be. Major changes in social values have all contributed. If you accept the hypothesis that these have had a significant impact on learning, then it’s clear that continuing to cultivate these will help our organization's cultures to become even more effective. And, it’s up to all of us to develop our skills in these areas and coach them (up, down, sideways) in our organizations.

Leadership and Culture Influences

  1. Emotional Intelligence: Three decades ago, leaders were often authoritative figures. Today, there is greater recognition of the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. Leaders are empathetic, self-aware, and capable of understanding their emotions and those of their team members.

  2. Inclusion and Diversity: Leaders more widely recognize the value of diverse perspectives on effective decisions, team function, and employee engagement, promoting an inclusive culture that encourages participation from individuals of different backgrounds, genders, and experiences.

  3. Transformational Leadership: The traditional "command and control" style of leadership has given way to transformational leadership, which focuses on inspiring and empowering employees to achieve common goals. Leaders are expected to be visionaries who can motivate their teams and encourage innovative thinking.

  4. Agile and Adaptive Leadership: In a fast-paced and constantly changing business environment, leaders need to be agile and adaptive. They must be capable of making quick decisions, embracing change, and guiding their organizations through uncertainty and ambiguity.

  5. Purpose: Leaders that adopt a purpose-driven approach and align their organization's goals and values with their mission, and lead with that mission in mind, are far more likely to build a culture that people want to follow and engage with. This means a greater commitment to alignment and success, and so are willing to share insights and learning more readily.

  6. Data-Driven Decision Making: The availability of big data and analytics tools has enabled leaders to make more informed decisions based on data-driven insights. Leaders need to be comfortable using data to drive strategy and performance improvements. More importantly, they need to be vulnerable and willing to let go of hierarchical or experience bias, opening the door for more engagement throughout the organization in leveraging and sharing learning and insights.

With all of these powerful shifts in how we work and live, successful leaders are more adaptable, empathetic, innovative, and capable of fostering positive relationships within their teams and creating an inclusive work culture. That invites continuous learning, improvement, and genuine encouragement and engagement from throughout the organization. Most importantly, how these leadership skills and behaviors ‘show up’ in organizations is up to each of us.

Thirty years ago, we all made lists of things that we wanted to change in organizations — now, we are enabled to participate and shape how our organizations work.


For more on working in ambiguity, listen along as Todd Conklin asks the question, "Do Bulldozers Float?"

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