The Importance of Cultural Values in the Leadership Coaching Process
Within a leadership development coaching process it is important to know and understand what the stated and actual organizational values are, so both the coach and the leadership coaching colleague can better understand how people fit or align themselves within the organization. A leadership coach needs to be sensitive to how things are actually done within the organization in which they are going to be coaching leaders and other key individuals. This understanding will help the coach be more effective in asking the right questions or challenging individuals to follow the right assumptions. This will also provide the coach with insight as to what will be the important values that your colleague needs to be in alignment with or possibly what values need to be changed to allow greater individual and organizational success. With both the coach and the colleague being clear on the organizational values, the coach can better advise (coach) the colleague on how to most effectively use his or her strengths, talents and competencies to attain the greatest impact.
Every organization has a culture. Just as the personalities of individuals, organizational culture is formed early in the life of the organization. Culture is determined by the personalities, behaviors and actions of the founders, key leaders and members of the organization as they form practices, strategies and react to internal and external forces. Culture then tends to become deeply embedded in the very fabric of the organization as it develops and is reinforced over time. Culture normally becomes so strong that even as original leaders and key members leave, the culture lives on. The culture can change to some degree over time, however most often it takes some extraordinary event to have a profound effect on cultural change. To break status-quo cultural behavior it takes strong leadership who model a different way of behaving and a reward system that causes organizational members to embrace a new approach to “how we do things around here.” A solid approach to ushering in cultural change is to identify and clearly state the desired values the organization will aspire to.
Values are the bedrock of any organizational culture. In fact, there is abundant evidence that the displayed values (good or bad) of members of an organization culture make a substantial difference in organizational performance. Because of this fact, the statement can be made “values are important” and “culture counts.” Culture is the mortar that holds the organization together – it’s about people. Culture is often described as the “soft” side of the business and is therefore thought to be easy to define, mold and change. You should challenge that assumption. The “soft” side of the business or organizational environment is most often very difficult to orchestrate. Culture within an organization is deep, extensive and complex. Culture is a very powerful and often unconscious set of forces that both determines individual as well as collective behaviors, beliefs, values and ways of perceiving situations and doing things.