If you truly want to create leaders who are engaged and dedicated to your organization, any leadership development opportunities must be infused with the very best of your company’s culture. The very definition of infusing something is to fill it with some quality that permeates the program and improves the outcome. Commonly liquids are infused with herbs, fruits, spices and essential oils to make the resulting beverage more healthful, beneficial, or flavorful. Infusing your leadership development program with the very best of your organizational culture transforms supervisors and managers into engaged and dedicated leaders who believe in and support your company. These leaders want to grow and develop so they can increase their competencies and help sustain the organization for the future. The trick is how to do this:
- Don’t use pre-packaged, turnkey training materials unless they support and match with your organization’s needed key leadership competencies and culture. Instead, develop unique programs designed to develop those skills, abilities and values needed in your organization. Sometimes using pre-packaged materials that allow for customization can be a good starting point, but the key to infusing your organization’s culture lies in adapting to the needs of your audience.
- Research the culture of your organization. This includes the formal culture and includes the methods of communication, the policies and procedures, the mission, vision and values that are cultivated and shared with employees; and also the informal culture. It is important to dig deeply into how things really get done, or get communicated in order to find out what is the informal culture. Sometimes executives and managers say one thing, yet do another. This will reflect in the informal culture. When employees tell each other things such as “Well, I know that the policy says this, but the way to really get results is to do that instead” there is evidence that the formal culture and informal culture may not match. A communication survey or modified engagement survey can often be used to assess organizational culture. This way, the negative aspects can be pruned, and the positive aspects of organizational culture can be embedded in your leadership development programs in order to infuse the new leaders with the best attributes.
- Finally, each aspect of the leadership development program such as courses, coaching, mentoring, stretch assignments or other elements must be designed to reinforce the best components of the organizational culture. Often we are tempted to work on improving weaknesses, yet in this case you will do well to instead focus on strengths. Take the very best of the company culture and ensure you are talking about, exploring, and helping your leadership students understand and embrace these positive aspects of the culture. These future leaders will then become ambassadors for your company as the are infused with the very best elements of culture that support and enhance the organization’s mission, vision, and values.