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Is your culture supporting your vision or do you have a ‘culture deficit’?

Is your culture supporting your vision or do you have a ‘culture deficit’?
March 9, 2016 mg_kintail

Organisations, especially those in the financial sector, are currently re-defining what they stand for – a new vision for the future and a common purpose for all employees and customers to align themselves to.

This re-definition is, more often than not, followed by the identification of a common set of values and associated behaviours. Key words such as integrity, communication, respect and excellence, are common values that organisations purport to hold.

It is the behaviours that are associated with these values that drive an organisation’s culture. In light of recent history and new regulatory guidelines the question then arises – are the behaviours of people within an organisation in line with its stated values?

It is reasonable to suggest in the case of Enron, for example, that their value-driven culture was not working. The values mentioned above were claimed by Enron as significant in their company’s ethos, yet, in terms of what happened there, it is hard to see how the culture within their organisation adhered to even the broadest definitions of integrity, respect, communication or excellence.

It could be argued that the problems with Enron occurred because of the poor quality of their leadership (some would say that they had no effective leadership at all), and that, the behaviour of people lower down the organisation was not to blame. The same argument could possibly be said about Lehman Brothers, Northern Rock, HBOS, to name but a few. In all cases, the leadership encouraging risk to be taken, and punishing anybody who challenged it, drove the culture, which largely involved taking high risk for short term high reward.

Therefore if the culture is driven by the behaviour of a small but very powerful and influential group of leaders, does that mean that values are pointless? I would argue not as values will shape everything you do in a positive way, providing the senior influencers (leaders) in the organisation wholeheartedly buy into them and demonstrate them in everything they do and say.

As Carly Fiorina, the ex CEO of Hewlett Packard, once said:

“values are what guide your behaviour when no one is watching and you don’t think anyone will ever find out”.

I define a culture deficit as:

“a gap in behaviour and conduct in everything that you do in relation to your stated vision, purpose and values”.

In my view if you want to know if you have a culture ‘deficit’ in your organisation, then taking a look at how your leadership is behaving is a good place to start.

For more information on the Kintail Consulting Culture Audit please contact us at