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The seven Cs of culture

Module 5: The seven responsibilities of a leader

An empowering, supportive culture is at the core of a successful company. It enables employees to perform at their best, develop their knowledge and skills, and achieve their personal mission as well as the company’s mission. These are ‘The Seven Cs of Culture’ you need to implement to develop an innovative, high performance culture with a competitive edge.

Teach everyone to listen to customers and make decisions based on customers’ current and future needs, wants and values

1. Customer focus

As a leader, you need to ensure that your employees have your customers’ best interests at heart and front-of-mind. Teach everyone to listen to customers and make decisions based on customers’ current and future needs, wants and values. One way to embed customer focus into your culture is keeping an empty chair at the table for the most important person, the one your organisation exists to serve. Another way is to conclude each team meeting with a question: “What have we accomplished that adds value to our customers?” Forbes reports that Amazon regularly tracks its performance against five hundred measurable goals, nearly 80 per cent of which are related to customer objectives.

2. Communication

Clear communication ensures that all employees understand the company’s mission, values, vision, goals, plan, tactics and progress.  But employees also need to know what’s expected of them – their roles and responsibilities, levels of delegation, authority and accountability. Employees want to know the company’s direction, how they can contribute and what they are expected to do to achieve company goals. It’s up to you to communicate that.

3. Collaboration

Effective collaboration builds co-operation and trust. When functional and cross-functional teams work together to achieve common goals, it enables them to learn from each other and demonstrates how companies innovate and grow. It’s critical for the CEO to foster a culture where employees enjoy working together on projects and take pride in accomplishing tasks together.

Ask your employees to challenge established practices

4. Creative problem solving

When employees are focused and aligned with the company’s mission, values and vision, you’ll find that they can generate exciting, innovative ideas for the company. Not only can that create new business opportunities, it can also uncover more efficient ways of working. Ask your employees to challenge established practices, brainstorm ideas and come up with solutions to problems. Then, reward them for being risk takers, problem solvers and innovators.

5. Constructive leadership

Great leaders know how to communicate, delegate and coach people to achieve outstanding results. They support an autonomous and flexible working environment, encourage people to come up with new ideas, and support calculated risk taking. They’re willing to acknowledge their own mistakes and seek advice from employees before solving problems. The leader’s responsibility is to define the culture you want, communicate effectively, involve employees regularly in decision-making, hold yourself and your top team accountable for performance and build a culture that supports growth.

6. Continuous learning

It’s the leader’s responsibility to develop employees. You need to give them opportunities to gain new knowledge and learn new skills that will support the growth of the company now and in the future. Providing feedback, opportunities to grow inside and outside the company, short courses, and allowing them to exchange experiences and knowledge are just a few of the ways you can help staff learn from each other and improve their performance.

7. Change management

You need to help your employees learn to expect change, because your company will need to change in order to grow. You and your employees need to learn how to make fast decisions, overcome growth barriers, and capitalise on new opportunities. Being nimble and entrepreneurial encourages experimentation and gives employees opportunities to try new things and learn new skills.

Company growth requires continuous change, so you need to select people who are comfortable with change and not threatened by it. And if someone resists change because they think it’s a repudiation of their past decision, reassure them that their decision was probably right – for the company at that stage of growth. But just as children outgrow their jeans, so companies need new and different people, systems, and facilities as they grow. If you’re thoughtful about what needs to change, and communicate why and how we need to change, then you should be able to lead your employees through the changes required to grow.

Just as children outgrow their jeans, so companies need new and different people, systems, and facilities as they grow

In summary, a strong culture enables leaders to attract and retain awesome people. It fosters their development by providing them with new knowledge and skills, encourages and stimulates them to think creatively and take calculated risks. And finally, it rewards them for high performance. Concentrate on getting ‘The Seven Cs of Culture’ in place and unlock your company’s growth potential.

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