How Leadership Team Dynamics Shape Company Culture
- Leadership Shift: The focus is moving from individual to team leadership dynamics.
- Culture Influence: Team leadership significantly shapes an organization’s culture, fostering trust and shared responsibility.
- Collaboration is Key: A collaborative leadership approach is vital for building resilient, sustainable cultures.
People have historically been fascinated with the individual leader—captivated by the charisma and prowess of leaders who, through their personal traits and actions, shape their organizations. However, this perspective only tells part of the story. Our understanding of leadership has been, in many ways, shaped by the heroic leadership paradigm, where one individual’s actions significantly influence an organization. Yet, as our organizations become more complex and interdependent, it has become increasingly apparent that leadership is not a solitary endeavor but a team sport. Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of company culture.
To build sustainable and resilient cultures, we must shift our focus from the soloist on the stage to the orchestra that creates the symphony—a company’s leadership team and its dynamics. The essence of culture is leadership team behavior at scale. It is the invisible hand that shapes behavior and performance across an organization.
Leadership Team Dynamics at Work
The captivating solo of a virtuoso violinist may grab our attention, but the symphony’s true beauty lies in the orchestra’s harmonious interplay. Similar is the narrative in organizations where an overemphasis on individual leaders tends to overshadow the profound influence of leadership team dynamics. Let’s look at a few organizations that have fine-tuned their ‘orchestras’ to create a harmonious culture of trust, shared responsibility, and ownership.
Salesforce offers a compelling example. Its executive leadership team embraces the ideal of ‘Ohana,’ operating less like a hierarchical management structure and more like a family, adopting a model of shared responsibility and mutual trust. Salesforce’s culture is not merely a reflection of an individual leader’s ethos but rather the result of the collaborative dynamics of the entire leadership team.
At Patagonia, the outerwear company renowned for its environmental activism, we see a collective leadership model in play. Their leadership team values collective decision-making and shared responsibility, functioning as a cohesive unit representing the company’s core principles. This approach has led to Patagonia’s unique corporate culture, deeply rooted in environmental responsibility and quality.
Zapier, a remote-first tech company providing a web-based service to integrate web applications, strongly emphasizes trust and shared responsibility in its team dynamics. The leadership team has created a culture that values autonomy, open communication, and shared decision-making, attributes that have been pivotal to the company’s rapid growth.
In each of these organizations, we see that the harmony within the leadership team shapes the organization’s culture, emphasizing the value of shared responsibility and trust. The symphony of leadership team behavior plays an influential role in shaping and driving an organization’s culture.
The Collaborative Advantage
To create thriving cultures, we must shift from a paradigm of individual leaders to one of leadership teams. A team of leaders working in harmony, embodying shared values, and fostering a culture of collaboration creates a ripple effect that permeates the entire organization.
In its essence, culture is team leadership behavior at scale. While individual leader behavior is essential, leadership team behavior and the culture it creates are the basis of significant competitive advantage for companies that get it right. Companies that leverage the collective strength of their leadership teams are better equipped to build inclusive, resilient, and effective cultures. They foster environments that value cooperation, shared responsibility, and mutual respect—traits indispensable for any organization aiming for sustainable success.
By acknowledging the power of leadership team dynamics, we can better understand their critical role in creating and maintaining the very heart of our organizations: their culture. Leadership, as we come to realize, truly is a team sport.
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About the Author
Dr. Jeb Hurley is a behavioral scientist and leading expert in team dynamics. Jeb’s work connects neurobiology, psychology, and technology with team effectiveness and performance. His leadership experience includes multiple founder, CEO, and global F100 VP/GM roles and over thirty years of developing teams and coaching leaders. Jeb holds a doctorate in organizational leadership and is the author of two books on team dynamics and leadership.
Learn more about Jeb’s work making good teams great at www.brainware-partners.com.