Talking to the Leader in the Mirror: Are You Building the Right Performance Culture in Your Organization?


Training Industry | January 25, 2019

The Training Industry article, “Talking to the Leader in the Mirror: Are You Building the Right Performance Culture in Your Organization?,” was co-written by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Derek Lusk on the effect that a leader’s behavior and leadership style have on their organization’s culture. The article is excerpted below.

Top of mind for most executives today are two topics: creating the right business model to thrive in a rapidly evolving marketplace and attracting the right human capital that can make their long-term vision a reality. A less common process in the C-suite is a deep investigation into how senior leaders define cultural norms that either do, or do not, set the stage for high performance. Through a wide range of investigations into the intersection of culture and leadership personality, from Apple to the NAVY Seals, the cultural composition of high performance has become quite clear. Executives who have not taken a hard look in the mirror to evaluate whether they are embodying the right values and showing their people in words and deeds that they matter might not realize that their organizations are losing momentum and entering a state of decline.

Let’s take a step back to clarify leaders’ unique cultural responsibilities. Research into personality and culture has clearly demonstrated that the two are indisputably linked to high-performing organizations and, therefore, represent key levers in unlocking human potential. First, personality impacts how executives lead organizations, from decisions around resource allocation to their style in dealing with people, and drives a host of financial metrics, like investment in R&D, capital expenditures, return on assets, and cash flow.

Second, though not intuitive for some leaders, executive leadership shapes organizational culture, and, in turn, culture colors what people pay attention to, the goals they set and how they work. Further, when we look at the overlap between leadership styles and culture, the intersection falls into four broad areas:

  • Fostering stable relationships

  • Facilitating a competitive culture

  • Ensuring strong operations management

  • Focusing on adventurous innovation

To read the full article, click here.