The organizational shadow impact

The organizational shadow phenomenon

Organizational culture is the shadow of the leadership

Leaders shape company culture through their behaviors

The behavior of the senior team has a direct impact on the performance and productivity of the entire organization

The most important thing to remember about organizational culture is that it develops whether or not management does anything.

Therefore, it is important for management to focus on cultivating a great culture rather than to have an unintentional culture develop. Once a culture develops it is difficult to change.

The first principle of successful organizational culture shaping – The shadow of the leaders

The most important shadows come from teams at the top; specifically, the CEO’s team and the teams of those who report to the CEO.

High performance leadership teams understand that their collective and individual behavior casts a positive or negative shadow across the entire organization.Driving cultural change

And since employees tend to take their cues on what is important and how to behave from their leaders, negative behavior at the top creates negative behaviors far down into the organization, adversely impacting performance and productivity.

The role of the leader requires modeling the desired behavior and letting others see the desired values in action. To become effective leaders, they must become aware of their shadows and then learn to have their actions match their message.

The head of an organization or a team casts a shadow that influences the employees in that group.

The shadow may be weak or powerful, yet it always exists. It is a reflection of everything the leaders does and says.

Not “walking” the talk

Whenever a company begins to make statements about desired behaviors and people don’t see those behaviors being modeled at the top, there is a lack of integrity:

  • Increased teamwork and cross-organizational collaboration is preached, yet the senior team does not collaborate across divisional lines
  • The organization is seen cutting back on expenses, yet the senior team doesn’t change any of its special perks
  • People are asked to be accountable for results, while the senior team members continue to subtly blame one another for lack of results.

Organizations are shadows of their leaders

Deal with managers who aren’t on the bus. Hold them accountable for culture creation and support

Because of the critical need for the senior team to role model the new culture, it is the group that first needs to come together to define the guiding behaviors for the rest of the organization. When the values don’t live in the senior team, the probability that the organization will live the values is low.

In order to build a winning culture, the top teams must be seen by the organization as living the values and walking the talk.

Organizations are shadows of their leaders - Corporate culture

Organizations are shadows of their leaders ….. that’s the good news and the bad news

The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.

Organizations can’t change if leaders can’t change with them

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About The Author

Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

Blog Comments

This is a very important perspective. Leaders often don’t understand or “see” the impact of their behaviors yet their influence is felt throughout the organization by the pace, inclusion and clarity of communication (or lack of).

It is an interesting perspective you have presented in highlighting the effects of leadership on the organization. As some others commented the use of the word shadow has negative connotations (ref Jungian shadows) I would use reflections or mirrors instead of shadows. Alternatively there are positive shadows and negative shadows
I agree with the need for role models and I would call it “Talk the Walk”

Considering several threats, challenges and Global Economic Crisis, all of us want change… hope for the best, of course!…but at the same time we’re afraid of “the new”, to assume risks,…and obviously change will not come if it’s not started from the bottom line, reengineering, reinventing the business, recalculating through a deep Market Research, Swot Analysis,…definitely is the biggest dilemma of nowadays.

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