How Culture Can Devour a Leader

Perhaps you are familiar with this well-known Peter Drucker quote about the power of culture.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

My experience suggests that culture has a fairly robust appetite. Not only does it have the ability to eat strategy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, sometimes, it can devour a leader as well. When this happens the team no longer believes in the leader and the leader loses the ability to influence behavior, deliver results, and develop people.

Culture devouring a leader doesn’t happen apart from the behaviors of the leader. In fact, it’s the very behaviors of a leader that often fuel the culture’s appetite. Here are three behaviors to keep an eye out for in yourself and others.

1. Playing Favorites

Many leaders play favorites giving the best opportunities and biggest praise to those the leader likes the most. Sometimes, leaders let their favorites get away with behaviors that are selfish, destructive, and hurtful to everyone else. In doing so, the leader isolates others, which is the exact opposite of building a great culture.

2. Failing to Adapt to Team Needs

No team is static. People join and leave. Requirements ebb and flow. A leader must be nimble and adjust to meet team needs. It’s important to continually assess the needs of the team and to give them what they need, when they need it. Moreover, it’s critical to stop doing what has helped the team in the past, but is no longer needed. Old habits are hard to break, but a true leader knows to serve the team, not an old habit.

3. Losing the Confidence of Others

It’s important for leaders to demonstrate both the character and competence needed to build confidence among team members. This means sticking to their word, delivering as promised, listening to others, and knowing their stuff. Maintaining the confidence of others in one’s ability to lead is an ongoing effort and key to successful leadership.

I wish you all the best as you lead others and encourage you to remember how your daily behavior shapes the culture of your team.

Make it a great day! -Patrick