Executives are often confounded by culture, because much of it is anchored in unspoken behaviors, mindsets, and social patterns. But when properly managed, culture can help them achieve change and build organizations that will thrive in even the most trying times. In "The Leader's Guide to Corporate Culture," the authors describe eight distinct culture styles:
CARING, focused on relationships and mutual trust
PURPOSE, exemplified by idealism and altruism
LEARNING, characterized by exploration, expansiveness, and creativity; enjoyment, expressed through fun and excitement
RESULTS, characterized by achievement and winning
AUTHORITY, defined by strength, decisiveness, and boldness
SAFETY, defined by planning, caution, and preparedness
ORDER, focused on respect, structure, and shared norms.
These styles fit into an "integrated culture framework" according to the degree to which they reflect independence or interdependence (people interactions) and flexibility or stability (response to change). They can be used to diagnose a culture and to model how likely an individual leader is to align with and shape it. The authors offer five insights regarding culture's effect on companies' success:
(1) When aligned with strategy and leadership, a strong culture drives positive organizational outcomes.
(2) Selecting or developing leaders for the future requires a forward-looking strategy and culture.
(3) In a merger, designing a new culture on the basis of complementary strengths can speed up integration and create more value over time.
(4) In a dynamic, uncertain environment, in which organizations must be more agile, learning gains importance.
(5) A strong culture can be a significant liability when it is misaligned with strategy.