Relation between Culture and Leadership – How they Affect Each Other

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As we know, a leader should be good in communication, have strategic capabilities, be creative, be a risk manager, inspiring and have several other qualities that we read about in various books available on the subject. On the other hand, if we look at culture, we find that it is the duty of leadership to develop culture in any organization and it can be a difficult task in any large organization. Now the question is whether culture creates leadership or it is the other way round and leadership creates culture? The answer is that both are true.

 Affect of Culture on Leadership

Affect of Culture on Leadership

If there is negative culture in the organization then it can demoralize positive leadership since every initiative is undermined by people with vested interest in old cultural values. In the form of complacency and various manipulative techniques, this type of negative culture can be quite challenging for bringing about any form of change. On similar lines, if there is negative leadership then it can have a rapid effect on positive culture present in the organization.

Culture – Function of Leadership

Company is based on the ethics its leaders have and normally becomes the main part of culture in the company. Let us look at few examples that illustrate this.

  • Bob Page had to hide his sexuality. However, when he created Replacements Ltd., Bob made sure that the company would always accept diversity in lifestyle as well as thought.
  • Anita Roddick as an environmental activist wanted to show her commitment towards creating environment friendly organization and that was reflected in Body Shop that she founded.
  • Mantaining work-life balance was the ideology of Jim Goodnight and this became integral part of SAS’s culture.
  • Environment of excellence developed at GE because of Jack Welch’s desire to be the best in what he does.

 Impediments to Cultural Change

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Impediments to Cultural Change

The main obstacles are the internal obstacles such as complacency, false ego and preconceived notions. Even if you attempt positive change in culture, team members commonly resist it through means, such as complaints or work procedure requirements. In such situation, it becomes the responsibility of leadership to enforce such change in culture.

What leadership can do to influence culture?

Let us now look at some of the things that leaders can do to make cultural changes in the organization.

  • Employees will normally be observing what you are doing in addition to things you say and values you have. Thus, it is important to follow through, if you commit that you will do it.
  • You as a leader need to properly recognize as well as reward your team members. If employees meet their targets then you should have a reward system in place to recognize such accomplishments. Additionally, if you set definite rules for work then culture will have to follow suit and conform to it thus helping to create hierarchical culture.
  • Passion is an important part of leadership and people like someone who has passion for something. If you have the passion and can inspire others to create change, then those people will themselves put in their best effort to make it a success.
  • Networking properly within the organization can help leaders know the ground level realities and take action accordingly. You will have to know the resisters to change present in the company and reasons why they do so to make better decisions and bring about the right cultural change.


Leadership and culture within the organization are interlinked. A good leadership can help bring about positive cultural change.

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