In 1988 I returned from a business trip to the USA and spent the flight reading ‘ Corporate Culture’. Since then organisational culture has played a huge part in my professional education, so much so that I am asked to comment and advise on its impact, structure and conceptual existence.

A company’s culture is ‘all over it’. Like a well tailored suit it embraces the wearer and adds a sense of style; security and image. One particular culture is common place today, it is that of autonomy over autocracy. That is to say it allows personnel ‘ownership’ of the function and process of doing business. This is great news but unfortunately the inexperience of ‘Leaders’ who embrace this very desirable culture is creating problems in spades. Here’s the perfect example:

‘Goodguy & Proper’ are the fictitious company, they have embraced an autonomous culture which allows personnel to have their say on almost everything. They’ve decided on a new brand and ‘Draw It Graphics’ have presented a new brand image complete with sound rationale and style guide. Joe Goodguy and Mark Proper like it and believe it represents the company’s personality but they want the crew to own it and so ‘Draw It’ present the brand to the whole group. Not everyone sees the necessity for change. Some like what they already have, others think that the graphic presented needs to be a different colour, some think it’s too modern and the Boss’s secretary hates it unconditionally. Goodguy & Proper are in trouble – they are between a rock and a hard place. So, exactly who is robbing this coach?

This scenario is not uncommon, we see it everyday and we think it deserves a response. What actually happened here was very simple. Instead of one leader, the decision was spread over many leaders and multi leadership is not an option in any culture. Under a well defined autonomous culture it’s right to offer personnel an opinion, and it’s good leadership to listen and formulate new ideas from constructive input, but whatever happens leaders cannot afford to abdicate their leadership . Yes! It’s a complex issue but leaders must be leaders when the tough calls need to be made and I need to be clear here – if you abdicate you’ll lose control of your direction and worse you’ll lose respect – the respect of those personnel you are trying to inculcate with autonomous values. Leadership is a very different skill to management and the troops need to know ‘who’s robbing the coach’.

It’s a difficult subject and a dilemma for many good leaders. I have written a more detailed explanation for our next E-Newsletter. If you’re really interested in maintaining a harmonious culture that sustains customer service excellence and delivers real performance with happy personnel, you’ll find it a great read, even if I say so myself. You’ll discover that leadership is not pushing from behind but pulling from the front. The whole world is waiting for leadership – Start with your business today. This way folks!!!!!!!