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5 examples of leading through culture
I recently attended the Evanta CIO Summit and listened in on a session titled, “Your Greatest Resource – Leading Organizations Through Culture.” Culture by itself is a nebulous entity without any concrete shape or form, but the insights and best practices shared on stage promise to go a long way in effectively driving change across the enterprise.
Here are the top five considerations that I took away when it comes to leading organizations through culture.
1. Leadership Alignment. Monique Hines, CIO of Signode Industrial Group, explained that for any organization to effectively define and embrace the culture that best fits its needs, one must start with its leadership. Driving the right type of culture top down with the leadership ensures there is consistency and alignment in its adoption across the depths of the enterprise.
2. Continuous Measurement. Mark Halloran, senior vice president and CIO of OptumRx, emphasized the vital need for the appropriate mechanisms to capture metrics related to culture. Just defining the culture and driving its adoption is not enough by itself. Enterprises must also continuously determine the extent to which it is being adopted and the resulting benefits.
3. Driving Engagement. Engagement across the enterprise is vital for driving cultural change. Marlene Evans, IT director of Ferrara Candy Company, shared that they have put in place an Engagement Council – with the objective of tracking and measuring the level of engagement across the organization. Being a candy company, Evans also gave some excellent examples of community engagement during key social events that occur during the holiday period.
4. Local Execution. One of the executives explained that he led the global team for his enterprise, which had various regional and local units. Even though his team had defined the global guidelines, regional execution was far more effective. When it comes to culture, sensitivity to local nuances and variations reinforce its broader adoption across the global enterprise.
5. Positive Reinforcement. Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO of Red Hat, explained that his organization encourages team members to make positive behavioral choices through their associate rewards program, in particular one called the Red Hat Multiplier, for acting with transparency or fostering collaboration. They've found this type of positive reinforcement among associates goes a long way in preserving and fostering a culture that is good for the organization as a whole.
Another example of positive reinforcement was shared on stage. Edward Marchewka, director of information technology for Gift of Hope, shared a simple but effective process they have in place called “Agent of Hope,” where they give green and yellow stickers for different types of behavioral choices made by employees when it came to security measures. The Agent of Hope sends a clear signal using the very actions (or inactions) of the employees as the medium of communication.
Even though individual leaders shared different thoughts in the context of their enterprises, there was one very clear message that resonated loud and clear:
“People matter – and therefore, culture does.”