Transformational Leaders’ Role in Organizational Culture Design

Many effective leaders are very good at identifying their vision, goals, and strategy for their organization.  Next, they set out to design an organizational structure that will help drive their strategy.  However, what is often overlooked is that a negative culture can make it nearly impossible to implement an excellent strategy. Although an organizational strategy is imperative to success, many leaders forget that they need to be intentional about building a culture that helps to execute the strategy.

I’ve had a client describe their culture as punitive and fear based.  As they redefined their strategy to focus on patient care and growth they found that many of the employees were afraid of suggesting ideas because they would get shut down by their supervisors.  It became very difficult to grow as an organization where there was perceived punishment for suggesting new ideas.  A vision and value statement could be in complete contrast based on the perceived culture or actions of leaders and employees. It’s important for the organization to really understand how their culture can work favorably or unfavorably for them and to be intentional about designing a culture that will support their strategy

Furthermore, culture can be a very tough thing to describe.  Clients often ask “how do we change our culture?  It feels overwhelming, where do we start? What is culture anyway?” Culture is the makeup of beliefs, practices, values, rituals, and behaviors of an organization.  Focusing on shifting and changing these elements in service of the strategy you want to achieve is critical to achieving an effective strategy.

This becomes extremely difficult as healthcare continues to be a turbulent environment requiring the understanding and awareness of key partnerships and strategic relationships.  It’s also requiring people to do things differently than they have before, continue through difficult financial challenges while completely transforming the way healthcare is delivered to achieve greater value at a lower cost and while delivering safer and high-quality care.

So why culture? It is THE most determining factor in the success of the organization.

Photo of Cheryl D. Foss, MSW

written by:

Cheryl D. Foss, MSW

Executive Coach