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Lead your staff to a new organizational culture!

  • 07 April 2011
  • Posted by Marcella Bremer

After doing the organizational culture assessment instrument (developed by Cameron & Quinn), people wonder how they personally fit into the current and preferred culture. Especially people in a leading position make a big difference when it comes to culture change. They are the catalysts who lead the change initially, they pull that "chariot of change". If they don't, sustainable change is not going to happen.


Managers play a crucial role in organizational culture for various reasons. They have the power to influence daily behavior: They give some employees interesting projects, they listen to some, they approve of vacation periods and they make up your performance appraisals...

Apart from their position power, leaders represent the archetypical authority that people respond to automatically. Whether that's by obeying immediately or by resistance, authority affects our (subconscious) behavior.

This is why absolute commitment by the CEO and other top executives, the board of directors, or whatever your top dogs are called, is a necessary condition for culture change and organization development. If they believe in the change they must BE the change as action speaks louder than words.

That's for starters. Next to their BE-lief, they must adjust their management style to the preferred culture type to start influencing their employees. This organizational leadership is one of the six culture aspects that is assessed in the OCAI.

Management Styles

So, what should managers or team leaders focus on? Robert Quinn discerns 8 management roles based on the Competing Values Framework. In his book "Becoming a Master Manager" these are described with exercises to enhance your capabilities in each of the roles.

Imagine that your organization needs to develop more of a Clan Culture. After the assessment, you've reached consensus with the staff and people came up with all kinds of measures and interventions to stimulate this people-oriented culture type. A crucial factor in this change is organizational leadership. The managers must enhance their roles as a mentor and a facilitator to stimulate and sustain this change.


The Mentor cares for people and is empathic. He has an open mind for what they need. He/She relates to their staff with mutual respect and trust. They actively stimulate commitment and morale. The core competencies of the Mentor role are:

  • Understanding Self and Other
  • Communicating Effectively
  • Developing Employees

There's a lot to say and to learn about these 3 core competencies and we focus our local training programs on these competencies. For now, apart from reading "Becoming a Master Manager", you could do the following:

  • Check out your personality type. Try the free versions of the MBTI around the Internet. Think of how you see your employees. What's the score on Openness, Conscientiousness, Empathy, Agreeableness and Neuroticism...?
  • Next week, simply ask people what they need from you (instead of assuming that you know) and be open to their answers. Don't comment, don't judge. Just take in the information and thank them for sharing.
  • Think of ways how to meet their needs....


The Facilitator is a people-oriented kind of leader. He/She is pursuing consensus and managing conflicts. They are influential because they stimulate participative decision making and collective problem solving. They actively work on openness and participation.

The core competencies of the Facilitator role are:

  • Building Teams
  • Using Participative Decision Making
  • Managing Conflict

Again, experimenting with these skills, you could do the following:

  • Make a list of what you like and dislike about your team. What's going great and what could become so much better?
  • Ask your employees to make their own lists.
  • Discuss them in a meeting, discover if there are conflicts of interest and try to solve them as a group. Come up with 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses that are collectively acknowledged. Decide as a team how to overcome the weaknesses.

People-oriented leaders

Just remember that the manager's position is very important. Take a look again at the outcome of your culture assessment. People in a leading position tend to give higher scores to Clan Culture, maybe because they feel comfortable in their own team. Your team members might experience much more work pressure than you assume and might see other sides of yourself, feeling that there's not enough Clan Culture. Would they like to get more support or attention from you? What exactly do they need?

Beware of these differences in experience, due to everyone's position. Ask people how they perceive culture and leadership. Work with their answers and take your role very seriously. Get yourself some training, coaching or whatever you need to work on these management roles.

Finally, as a rule of thumb: You can never give enough attention to people. The workplace is thriving with truly people-oriented leaders. This is an important task for a manager: Make time for your people! Spend as much time on eye contact as you spend on figures. And see how your workplace will change.

Do you want to know more? Join the international, interactive 3-day workshop on Culture Change Leadership in Amsterdam in 2017. Download the leaflet and read more about the Culture Change Leadership workshops 2017.

Copyright by Marcella Bremer

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