Culture is the lifeblood of an organisation. It reflects the values, beliefs, and behaviours that determine how people perform and interact with each other every day. In some organisations, culture is widely discussed and understood by all. In others, it is an unspoken set of rules and norms. Culture, regardless of how it is communicated, plays an enormous role in organisations’ performance.

When organisations fare well, leaders are unlikely to call for significant changes in culture. But when companies experience a disappointing performance, or a trigger event such as a new CEO, a merger, a spin-off, a market shift or a major competitive threat, suddenly culture change becomes an urgent priority. In today’s volatile business environment where organisations are constantly adapting to changes, culture has become a significant aspect of the leadership agenda.

To explore this issue, Korn Ferry conducted a comprehensive global survey on leadership development generating more than 7,500 responses from business and HR leaders in over 100 countries. The results in the third of four reports in this series reveal that organisations see the need to make a priority of culture to drive alignment, collaboration, and performance. Yet many acknowledge they have not effectively aligned culture and strategy.

Key findings include:

  • "Driving culture change" ranks among the top three global leadership development priorities.
  • "Organisational alignment and collaboration" is considered the primary driver to improve culture.
  • "Communications" is the most used strategy to improve culture, followed by "leadership development" and "embedding culture change in management objectives."

The findings suggest that organisations need to make culture change a more significant aspect of their leadership development programs and overall leadership agenda. Culture change occurs, ultimately, when a critical mass of individuals adopt new behaviours consistent with their organisation’s strategic direction. Leadership development can be the most effective tool to change behaviours and it plays a key role in accelerating, reinforcing, and sustaining culture change throughout the organisation. And when leaders change their behaviours, others do so, too.

As you will see in this report, culture change starts in the executive suite. Top leaders need to define the culture, communicate it to all organisational levels, and act and behave in ways that reflect and reinforce desired outcomes.

Download the report to learn the implications of our global research on leadership development. We hope the insights provided will help your organisation develop the leaders needed to succeed in these challenging times.


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