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Leaders drive organizational culture: reflections above the Mediterranean

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Nov 25, 2015 8:00:02 AM

The shoreline of the Mediterranean sea can be seen from the right side of the jet I’m riding in as I write this. It is beautiful, even from this height.

Down below it is not nearly so peaceful, one of the most war-ridden areas of the planet.mt_horeb2.jpeg What appears serene at altitude is exposed as carnage and suffering on the ground — at least when it comes to the human factor. Unless people decide to alter their approach, the mismatch between beautiful geography and angry, displaced peoples will continue.*

My work has put me in touch with scores of organizations following a similar trajectory On paper, at altitude, everything should work well—the market is expanding, customers have money to spend and desire for the product, the product actually delivers its brand promise, and yet, on close-up examination, the façade disappMt_horeb1.jpegears. Why? Human factors most often.

At the center of the people problem we often find organizational leaders who guide according to self-preservation and short-term results. Key employees are thrown under the bus. Those that remain hide in shadows giving energy to not be seen, rather than sharing critical information, or seeking ever more creative opportunity to collaborate. Employees find they have permission to treat each other and perhaps even customers in the manner top leadership does, (mis)treating them. Misusing others becomes a cultural norm.

And when this happens it isn’t sunlight we are seeing reflecting back to the heights. It’s oil on the water, threatening to burn.

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*These photos were taken from the Golan Heights with serene Mount Horeb in the distance and the Syrian Civil War down below. The soldiers are UN Peacekeepers monitoring the situation from Israel’s side of the border.

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Topics: process consulting, organizational development consulting, leadership arts, executive leadership, organizational development muse, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International

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