When fewer than one third of CEOs surveyed understand their organizational cultures (Deloitte Human Trends Reports, 2016), many leaders are leaving a source of untapped business potential on the proverbial table – the invention, positivity, and brilliance in their cultures. Although the participation of people at all organizational levels is needed to evolve a culture, leaders need to guide the process. Culturally brilliant leadership entails a heightened level of self-awareness, a willingness to explore cultural blind spots, and a connection to the “right brain” of a culture—relational aspects such as connection, creativity, and vulnerability. This doesn’t mean we leave the left brain (the logical, linear part) behind, it means we seek a balance.
Cultural change itself is iterative and belief-based, rather than task-oriented or procedural. Leaders set the stage for change by clearly exhibiting learnership: The willingness to listen, to be inclusive, and to discuss the discomfort and/or exhilaration of growth at pivotal organizational moments.