Are Your Leaders Doing Only Half Their Job?

Don’t leave the quality of your work culture to chance. Make values as important as results with an organizational constitution.

How do you gauge the effectiveness of your leaders? If you’re like most organizations, you measure, monitor, and reward the results that a leader—and his or her team—generates.

Results—and profits, for those organizations in the for-profit area—are certainly important. Sustained results mean you’re likely generating greater revenues than expenses. That can help the enterprise continue its existence in this hectic, global marketplace.

However, results aren’t the only important thing. In fact, managing results is exactly half the leader’s job. The other half? Managing the quality of the work culture.

Yet most leaders—and most organizations—don’t make culture a priority.

The good news is that culture—the quality of the work environment, how people treat each other, the norms that guide daily behavior and activities—is growing in importance.

According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report, “Few factors contribute more to business success than culture.” The study found that 87 percent of business leaders believe culture is important. And 54 percent believe culture is very important.

Culture is critically important. Your culture drives everything that happens in your organization, for better or worse. Why, then, don’t leaders proactively manage the quality of their work culture? They don’t know how. They’ve never been asked to manage culture. Deloitte’s study found that only 28 percent of respondents believe they understand their current culture well. Only 19 percent believe their organization has the “right” culture.

Let’s look more closely at the leadership skills required to effectively manage both performance and the quality of the work culture.

The skills required for managing results are well known. Job descriptions, processes, performance dashboards, and more provide knowledge leaders can act upon. Leaders can engage in training programs to build their leadership skills, their listening skills, their team facilitation skills, etc.

Leaders have role models—current and past bosses—who they observe and learn from (learning not only what to do but what not to do) when managing performance. In every organization I consult with, there are wide ranges of performance accountability. It varies by leader, team, and function—some are great at holding others accountable for performance; some are not. Overall, most organizations could manage performance accountability more effectively.

The skills required for managing the quality of the work culture are, unfortunately, not well known. For some of us who were blessed with a great boss (or two) who did make culture and values as important as results, we had great role models to learn from.

If you’ve been in an organization that had a purposeful, positive, productive work culture, it was pretty special. People treated each other with trust, respect, and dignity, in every interaction—even while trying to fix complex problems under tremendous pressure.

Leaders need to be taught to effectively manage the quality of their work culture. There are three stages:

  • Define
  • Align
  • Refine

In the define stage, leaders must formalize their desired culture. By creating an organizational constitution, leaders specify their organization’s servant purpose, its “reason for being” besides delivering results or profits. Leaders then specify their organization’s values and behaviors, so people know exactly how they’re expected to treat each other in every interaction. Finally, leaders specify their strategies and goals, so everyone knows what results they’re expected to contribute.

Defining your desired culture with an organizational constitution takes some time. And, it’s the easy part! Aligning all plans, decisions, and actions to that organizational constitution is the hard part.

The align stage takes anywhere from 12 to 18 months of steady modeling, reinforcement, celebration of alignment, redirection of misalignment, etc., by leaders at all levels of the organization.

A key element of the align stage is measuring how well your values and behaviors are being lived daily. Just as you measure, monitor, and reward performance traction, you must measure, monitor, and reward values traction.

How, though, do you measure something as vague as values? With your organizational constitution, you’ve already solved that problem. You’ve defined values in observable, tangible, measurable terms.

One client defined their “respect” value as appreciating the worth of others and treating everyone with courtesy and kindness.

That definition alone, though, doesn’t clarify how you expect players to model respect. They added these valued behaviors to ensure everyone knows how to demonstrate respect in their organization. Their behaviors for respect include:

  • I seek and genuinely listen to others’ opinions.
  • I do not act or speak rudely or discount others.
  • I work to resolve problems and differences by directly communicating with the people involved.

Each of their six values includes three measurable behaviors just like these. Their 18 behaviors are measured twice a year in an employee survey that allows every player to rate his or her boss on the degree to which he or she “seeks and genuinely listens to others’ opinions,” etc.

After each survey, every leader receives a profile of employees’ ratings for all 18 behaviors. This “values” profile is combined with their performance feedback to provide a complete picture of both halves of the leader’s job—managing performance and managing the quality of the work culture.

Approximately every two years, the refine stage offers the chance for leaders to update their behaviors, strategies, and goals. Their servant purpose and values won’t need refinement very often—they’ll remain as foundational pieces of their organizational constitution.

Don’t leave the quality of your work culture to chance. Make values as important as results with an organizational constitution.

S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and executive consultant who is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year executive career leading high-performing teams, Edmonds began his consulting company in 1990. He also has served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. Edmonds is one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers and was a featured presenter at SXSW 2015. He is the author of the Amazon best-seller, “The Culture Engine”; the best-seller, “Leading at a Higher Level” with Ken Blanchard; and five other books. Edmonds’ blog, podcasts, research, and videos can be found at Driving Results Through Culture. Thousands of followers enjoy his daily quotes on organizational culture, servant leadership, and workplace inspiration on Twitter at @scedmonds. Visit his Website at


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