“It just appears that everything is focused on bottom-line. Forget culture, forget about respect, forget about staff engagement, etc. Just produce the numbers. Fortunately for me, we continue to beat all revenue records, volumes, etc.

Yet, you can do better, hire cheaper people, forget the soft stuff, etc. For me, it is all about culture, staff empowerment and engagement, and leading with our soul. Hard for me to find such an organization.”

When it gets to be too much

As I read this note from a senior executive friend of mine, I could feel the pain in his words and the pit of my stomach.  This man is a true leader who cares for his people as well as caring for the business.

However, his organization does not want a dual alignment, they want a singular focus.

Sometimes in my role as an organizational consultant, I get so disillusioned when I hear stories like this.  Organizational culture is a real thing.  When there is misalignment from the organization and its leaders or the employees, you will have fall out.

Every leader plays a part in the process of changing organizational culture, but at the end of the day, leaders are the ones who can make or break it. The choices they make cause a ripple effect on employee recruitment, engagement, and performance that powerfully impacts the company’s performance.  Sure, we have to focus on the numbers, but today more and more organizations are realizing that this culture aroma of an organization will have consequences.

Culture is the new P&L

According to CultureIQ data from the 2015 Top Company Cultures program, the greatest differentiator between great companies and the ones that are not is employees’ confidence in senior leadership. That being said, by setting the mission of an organization and empowering employees to achieve that mission, leadership builds the foundation of company culture — and plays an important role in changing it when it needs to be changed.

If leadership has that laser focus based only on the numbers, do it cheaper, hire cheaper, do more with less, etc., you are driving into a storm.

Another one bites the dusk

Another good friend who rose to the senior position in his organization as Managing Director, sent me a note the other day that he has already asked for a buyout.

His dilemma is a little different.

His former CEO believed in People and Profit.  Every meeting would focus on those 2 points.  Discussion around people, who would be recognized, who had done incredible things etc.  Next up on the agenda was the numbers.  This CEO believed in making people the anchor of the business.

However, this CEO retired a year ago and the new CEO comes in.

The team still used the same model as they were accustomed to all the leaders meeting: People first/ Numbers second. At the end of that first leadership meeting, this new CEO proposed a change.  Well let’s just say it was directed that meetings would only focus on the numbers, the people discussion you have within your team not at the group meeting.  The new sheriff had spoken

When he told me this story, I knew it would only be a matter of time.  He mentioned that all expense accounts are scrutinized. He was even called out for having Starbucks coffee meetings and restaurant expenses with his team.

So when I got the note the other day as he told me he was asking to be released, I was not surprised.  My other executive at the beginning of this article has basically said he will not renew his contract when it comes up.

Results are in

Two dynamic and inspiring leaders are now preparing to leave the organization that they loved.  You probably have your own stories to tell.  Is this a tsunami as leadership style are clashing with culture?  We already know that today people are leaving organizations because of culture clash, and now it is “cascading” upstream as leaders are also reaching for the door.

Every leader in our organization is looking for solid footing and a feel of belonging not only for them but hopefully for their teams.  This autocratic model of leadership is going to drive many organizations into turbulent waters.

“Culture eats strategy for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner” Mark Fields former President & CEO Ford Motor Company