Leadership and Building a Culture of Excellence 

For most businesses, strategic plans, profit margins, and quarterly goals are the priority. But there are two things that often get overlooked that can have a major impact on the health of the entire business — leadership and culture.  

Conductor’s Managing Director, Jeff Standridge, hosted a workshop recently on Leadership & Building a Culture of Excellence.  

“It doesn’t matter how high quality your plan is, if you don’t have the right culture, it will consume your plan,” Standridge said.  

This article dives into that intricate interplay between leadership and culture and emphasizes their roles in driving a company towards excellence.  

What is organizational culture? It isn’t an abstract concept, its the heart and soul of a company’s identity. It encompasses the core values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that characterize an organization. Think of it as the collective personality that guides how employees interact, make decisions, and perform their roles. It also describes how employees are hired, rewarded, and even fired. When a culture is strong, meaning there is strong leadership, clarity, and focus among the team — empowering communication and 100% accountability — it propels the company forward. When a culture is suffering, it can significantly hinder both growth and innovation.  

In order to achieve a thriving workplace culture, the company must have strong leadership.  

Standridge defines leadership as, “The most important requirement for business and personal success. In simple terms, it is defined as the willingness to be held accountable for results, then to fulfill that responsibility no matter what the external situation, circumstance, or pressure.”  

Being a good leader means being able to balance assertive personal ambition and the willingness to serve others. The ability to foster relationships while driving results is the essence of successful leadership. People tend to thrive at building relationships or driving results, but if you focus on one at the expense of the other, you’ll lose them both.  

The situational leadership theory provides a framework for understanding how leaders should adapt their behaviors based on the needs of their team members. Essentially — how to drive results without the expense of relationships. Each employee thrives under a unique approach. This theory focuses on two basic groups of leadership behaviors — directive and supportive.  

Directive behavior involves providing structure and control, while supportive behavior revolves around listening, positive reinforcement, and consensus-building. A balance of these behaviors is essential for creating a work environment that nurtures both individual growth and collective accomplishment.  

One of the most important lessons in leadership is accountability. Holding the team accountable and submitting to being accountable as a leader. Leaders are accountable for the actions and outcomes of a company, but at their core, they are accountable to the people they lead. To do this takes a high level of integrity, which means that your words seamlessly align with your actions.  

Another critical piece of a strong culture is having an engaged and committed team. This means that all of your employees have a clear understanding of the organization’s mission and values, and reflect that through their dedication, productivity, and innovation. If your employees don’t know your company core values by heart, then they certainly aren’t living them out.  

The symbiotic relationship between leadership and culture is the foundation of a company’s success. An effective leadership team sets the tone for a positive culture, while a robust culture reinforces and elevates leadership efforts. Businesses that recognize the significance of both aspects and invest in their development, pave the way for a future of growth, resilience, and achievement.  

For more workshops on leadership and building a culture of excellence (and more), check out the lineup of Conductor events at arconductor.org.  

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