CHAPTER 6Leadership Accountability at the Culture Level

Things were even worse than I expected.” This admission came from a new CEO at a financial services organization who was hired to transform her organization. Going in, she knew she was taking over a company that needed to change. She was aware of the organizational and cultural challenges she and her executive team would have to overcome. Even with her eyes wide open going in, she was still surprised at the severity of her organization’s problems.

After a recent series of meetings with leaders at the middle and front-line levels of her organization, she realized they lacked clarity around the organization’s new strategy. She knew she needed to align leaders to a new set of leadership expectations, create real accountability, and drive a one-company mindset across the leader population.

Unfortunately, in open and frank discussions with her leaders, she heard that her company was leagues away from achieving those goals. Her leaders told her they were stuck in silos and were unclear on how to navigate in a more complex business environment. Of more significant concern, they had no opportunities to work with colleagues across the organization to execute on shared priorities.

I could sense her frustration and anguish. As we continued our discussion, it became clear to both of us that leadership culture was going to be her number one priority. If she didn’t make it stronger, she and her executive team wouldn’t be successful. ...

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