“Things were even worse than I expected.”
The admission came from a new CEO at a financial services organisation who was hired to transform her company. We recently sat down to talk about the challenges she was facing.
Going in, she knew she took over a company that needed to change. She was well aware of the business and cultural challenges she and her executive team would have to overcome. And yet, even with her eyes wide open going in, she was still surprised at the depth of the problems she encountered.
After a series of skip level meetings with leaders deeper in the organisation, she realised her employees needed more clarity around the organisation’s new strategy. She needed to align leaders with a new set of leadership expectations, create real accountability and drive a “one-company” mindset across the leader population.
Only 27% of the organisations we surveyed believe that they have a strong leadership culture in place.
What she heard in open and frank discussions with her leaders was that her new company was leagues away from achieving those goals. Her leaders told her they were stuck in silos and were unclear on how to navigate in a more complex business environment. Of greater concern was that they had no opportunities to work with colleagues across the organisation to execute on priorities.
I could sense her frustration and anguish. She told me that the very things her leaders complained about were exactly what they needed to tackle themselves—but they didn’t even realise that. They were looking to her to solve all of their challenges.
As we continued our discussion, it became clear that she was going to have to make leadership culture her number one priority. If she didn’t make it stronger, she and her executive team wouldn’t be successful.
Unfortunately, this CEO’s story is not that different from similar conversations I have had with other C-Suite leaders. Across all kinds of organisations in all manner of industries and sectors, leadership culture is in crisis.
In fact, our global research has revealed that only 27% of the organisations we surveyed believe that they have a strong leadership culture in place. That is less that one in three. This is a concerning data point and one that we need to better understand.
To help us do that, we are launching a Transformation Insights Survey to explore what makes up a strong leadership culture in a company. The survey only takes five minutes. We will aggregate the findings and report on them in a future issue of Transformation Insights.