How Leaders Influence Culture– Part 4; Replacing Leaders and Staff

Today we conclude our conversation on managing culture with my least favorite topic, replacing people.

When there are problems facing your organization, sometimes its culture needs to be changed.  Staff take their cues from their leaders, and if leadership is too steeped in the cultural traditions of the entity, then changes in leadership may be required.  As new leaders are onboarded, they too may realize that the incumbent staff cannot see how their culture is impeding their survival.  Staff that are unwilling to change may also need to be replaced. 

Large changes in staff can destroy an organization and it should be avoided when possible.  It’s a last resort when everything else has failed.  And it is a direct reflection on leadership.  In most situations, able leadership can overcome these situations by using some of the techniques we’ve reviewed in prior blog posts.

The pace of change in which organizations find themselves can be dizzying.  Culture by definition provides stability but this oftentimes becomes a defense mechanism against change.   

This is an emotional subject.  These types of leadership decisions have tremendous impact on people’s lives.  Mistakes can have tremendous consequences.  Examples of this are prevalent and well documented in business literature.  When this method of changing culture is chosen, trust within the organization is broken and it becomes difficult to lead effectively once this has occurred. Talented people in your organization may begin to seek employment elsewhere at a time when they are most needed.  Rebuilding trust becomes a central theme for the healing process to begin and it can take years to rebuild.  Tread carefully if you choose this as your method for changing the culture.

This concludes our discussion on leadership and culture.  Next time I will share an autobiographical tale on the best job I ever had.  See you then!