I have been in the field of training, leadership, and organizational development for over 20 years. Through all these years, I have heard one message (and complaint) from practitioners, consultants, authors and gurus: for cultural change to succeed, top leadership must support it. It’s amazing. This message is so consistent. And there is so much evidence to prove it! Yet the issue persists as a key barrier to successful culture change.
As a previous blog post stated, leaders who want to create a cultural revolution—and make it stick—must get everyone involved. They must engage and empower everyone at every level. Strong leadership, especially on the people side, is essential. Yet it remains elusive. Why?
Responses commonly include:
• Building service culture is seen by leaders as “feel good” activity; nice to have but not essential to the business. Leaders will pursue this when they have the time, but it is not part of the core business.
• There are too many other serious business issues that take priority. These may be product, process or financial initiatives, and are often seen as having greater short-term importance to shareholders or stakeholders.
• Frequent changes in top leadership and organization structure make it difficult to commit and sustain a culture building strategy over time.
Let’s face it. Engaging, focusing and inspiring employees can be challenging. Role modeling new behaviors over a sustained period is hard work.
If you are a leader, what issues keep you from supporting a service culture change? What enables you to give your full support?
If you are an implementer of a service initiative, how have you successfully gained and sustained top leadership support?