Anne Krog Iversen is the Co-founder, Chief DNA & Culture Officer at TimeXtender.
A strong company culture—whether in-person, hybrid or remote—can drive productivity, engagement and ultimately success. But building and maintaining a strong culture is not easy. It requires a deep understanding of how people’s conceptions of leadership and autonomy are shaped.
Looking At Culture On A Deeper Level
By digging deeper into company culture—a process I’ll outline below—leaders can explore the unrealized potential within their teams (what we at TimeXtender refer to as purpose circles). One key to realizing this potential is helping employees find trust, autonomy and interdependence. I recommend first assessing your current culture and then implementing solutions to align culture and performance. My company uses the See-Own-Solve-Evolve method to assess the current state of the organization and install solutions.
The ‘See-Own-Solve-Evolve’ Method
See: Discover the current states of high and low performance within your company. This can include conducting a comprehensive assessment of current business performance by analyzing various key performance indicators (KPIs) such as revenue growth, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, etc. Assessing performance can help determine whether there are gaps in your culture. For example, low performance can indicate that you need to take a look at the behavior behind it.
Own: Here is where we, as an organization, align and own the performance agenda (our business performance goals). This can involve all stakeholders, including employees, customers and partners, as we develop a clear and concise performance agenda that aligns with the organization’s core purpose.
Solve: This step involves identifying performance gaps by comparing actual performance to the goals set in the Own step. Then, it’s important to develop action plans and initiatives to address the identified gaps and improve overall performance. For example, when our performance data showed us that we were a bit low on accountability, we started incorporating weekly check-ins to make sure all team members are aligned on the execution of a project. This helps ensure we’re moving toward our goals. We answer questions like, “How does the executive team (what we call our executive circle) provide clear direction for performance?” and “How do high performers scale?”
Evolve: Finally, it’s time to evolve into the next iteration of the company. We monitor, learn and do what it takes to integrate the changes and choices that align culture and performance. This step involves continually monitoring and evaluating the organization’s performance and making changes as necessary to ensure that the culture remains strong and productive. We want to foster a culture of continuous improvement and innovation by encouraging feedback and implementing new ideas and technologies while celebrating and recognizing successes and achievements to reinforce a strong and productive performance culture.
Now, Who Leads The Evolution?
Whenever we—or any other group of leaders—want to make something happen, we must keep our culture in mind. Because culture is the way people do life within organizations, both consciously and subconsciously. It’s going to inform every aspect of how things happen, and it makes the process much easier to have a mutually known and understood “language” with which we’re able to label the leadership culture for which we’re aiming.
The Center for Creative Leadership has identified three types of organizational leadership cultures: dependent, independent and interdependent.
• In dependent leadership cultures, employees perceive authority to emanate from a select group of people in leadership positions, who drive the organization and its teams forward.
• In independent leadership cultures, employees look to those who exude individual expertise and “heroic action” as leaders.
• In interdependent leadership cultures, employees take a collective approach to leadership that benefits the group, community or organization as a whole.
It’s also important to note here that we want to make a conscious choice about what leadership culture we aim for, knowing that we need to switch between all three, depending on the situation. However, a shared language on these concepts enables people and organizations to make conscious choices about leadership style.
At TimeXtender, we work in semi-autonomous purpose circles/teams that combine high performers, their self-sufficiency and the ability to work asynchronously as a result of their high-performing expertise, making independent leadership strategies useful and indeed critical in some circumstances. Collaborating interdependently across purpose circles also makes sense so that each can add value to the other, sharing knowledge transparently, and so they can provide customers with win-win solutions that fit their multifaceted needs.
However, it’s also a conscious choice and a valuable one to apply the dependent leadership style in the final phases of project management to ensure we get all the nitty-gritty details in place, whereas in the ideation phase, we’d want a different approach to get all perspectives on the table before setting a direction.
Building and maintaining a strong company culture with aligned leadership is not easy, but it is essential for success in today’s business world. Our approach to building a strong culture involves assessing the current state of the organization and implementing solutions to align culture and performance. By using the See-Own-Solve-Evolve method, we can ensure that our culture remains strong and productive. You can use this model or another similar method to stay proactive in building and maintaining a strong and productive culture.
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