From tone at the top to tone in the middle, leaders and managers at all levels need to understand their roles and how it relates to company culture.
Let’s play a game. Imagine you’re the CEO, the CFO, the Director or the General Manager. You’re the top dog, leader of the pack, and you’re absolutely passionate about the company you manage and run. You made it to this position through tireless dedication, years of expertise and honed-in the necessary skills to take the reins. And you have an unflatering need to constantly invest, grow and innovate – not only in yourself, but also in your company.
You’re proud of the team that helps make the engines run; they are, after all, the ones that help your organisation meet those milestones and achievements that your board, and your investors expect. You read the monthly reports, you work collectively with other stakeholders; you’ve hired a team of experts across HR, L&D, Internal Communications, and other high-level managers to push out the message of your organisation’s values and vision to meet those business outcomes.
But then, something goes amiss: a fraudulent employee. A fraudulent transaction. Gross misconduct. Unethical behaviour. Investigations. Front page of the newspaper. Where did it all go wrong? With just a little bit of role play and imagination, now ask yourself this: how well do you understand the implications of corporate culture and leadership amongst your team? How well are the glossy concepts in your organisation’s inspiring company strategy, vision and value being brought to life. And when things go amiss; who gets put on the chopping block – your leaders who were tasked with drip-feeding the company messages and values, or you, the all-mighty leader?
Culture Accountability, Compliance and the C-Suite – The Great Divide
We know that tone at the top can set the precedence for the rest of the organisation to follow, and when it comes to generating a culture of compliance, it’s absolutely critical that the C-Suite live and breathe these values. The C-Suite are the figureheads of the organisation that employees look to for vision, guidance and leadership. But how well is the C-Suite actually singing the sweet tunes and leading the dance of their own company culture. In a recent global report by UK-based law firm Hogan and Lovells, only 60% of CEOs regard anti-bribery and corruption as one of their top priorities (when it should be 100%) while 58% of Chief Compliance Officers admitted that their advice to the CEO gets filtered by others. Paired with the fact that misconduct does occur in the C-Suite, how can CEOs be held accountable for a basic culture of compliance when compliance isn’t the focus? And is there too much emphasis for middle managers to relay the messaging of the company values, while being responsible for monitoring their own teams.
Relying on the Middle Managers as Culture Ambassadors
If you’re going to rely on the middle managers and frontline managers to drip down the messages of your culture while stressing the importance of compliance, it’s essential that they have the skills to lead their teams. They are after all, the ones that are able to turn principles into practice, who focus on performance behaviour, who build trusting relationship with employees and can turn the naysayers into optimists. They are the ones that facilitate a strong culture at a grassroots level. So now ask yourself this: how well do they stack up? If these middle managers and leaders are unable to effectively communicate your organisation’s values, identify breaches in ethics or integrity, or lack the basic skills to have difficult conversations or handle workplace conflicts, then your culture gets lost, and that’s where your organisation could suffer in the long run. Take a look at our Leadership Development whitepaper to get some best practice tips on how to start a program to develop and upskill your leader.
Put a Magnifier Over Your Company Culture & Your Role
It’s time to put the magnifying glass over the ways your workplace culture is paying your organisation dividends, and how your role, among others all play a part:
- To start: when it comes to the C-Suite and that great divide mentioned earlier, understand that this role is not only to demonstrate the core values of your company culture, but that the CEO represents the high standards of ethics and compliance that the organisations wishes to foresee among all staff. If the fish rots from its head, then it’s just no good for everyone else to digest.
- Is your company culture protecting you? Is it keeping your employees and workplace sage? Is it promoting self-governance? In other words, is your team willing and proactive in the face of compliance, or are the that other “c” word – complacent, and unmotivated? If so, why? Why are these individuals not inspired to respect and protect themselves, and each other?
- Is your culture supporting growth and development of capable, productive and effective leaders? What does your talent pool look like? Is there any talent – and if not, what are you doing to develop, foster and retain them? Are you overlooking succession planning by failing to develop your future leaders? If so, you might want to read this.
- Does it welcome and acknowledge innovation or refute it?
So Where Do We Go From Here?
The more we talk about organisational culture and where it ultimately sits, it becomes a bit more of a collective approach; everyone is responsible. Your leaders at all levels really act as your culture ambassadors. From the C-Suite, we have individuals with the power and following to set the tone, demonstrating that ethics and compliance are a core foundation to the organisation’s beliefs and values. From the middle-onwards, these middle-managers and frontline leaders can drive and influence behavioural change through appropriate messaging, coaching and support within their teams. It’s a group effort, and by understanding the role each leader and manager plays in embodying and conveying company culture, you as CEO, are able to get those engines running and meet those milestones just as you had imagined.
Equip your leaders with the tools and skills to make a positive change within your organisation. Ask us today about our leader and managers courses, or enquire about our custom eLearning content development for your leadership development training program.