The organizational shadow impact

June 27, 2015 Torben Rick


The importance of culture and its effects on organizational performance are by well known. Indeed, the topic has gone mainstream to the degree that “culture” was Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2014.

Yet even as issues of organizational culture lie at the heart of merger clashes, strategy failures and change initiatives, too many leaders approach organizational culture as they might the weather – everyone talks about it but with the assumption that nothing can be done about it.

The behavior of the senior team has a direct impact on the performance and productivity of the entire organization

The first principle of successful organizational culture shaping – The shadow of the leaders

The most important shadows come from teams at the top; specifically, the CEO’s team and the teams of those who report to the CEO.

High performance leadership teams understand that their collective and individual behavior casts a positive or negative shadow across the entire organization. And since employees tend to take their cues on what is important and how to behave from their leaders, negative behavior at the top creates negative behaviors far down into the organization, adversely impacting performance and productivity.

Organizations are shadows of their leaders ….. that’s the good news and the bad news

Driving cultural changeThe role of the leader requires modeling the desired behavior and letting others see the desired values in action. To become effective leaders, they must become aware of their shadows and then learn to have their actions match their message.

The head of an organization or a team casts a shadow that influences the employees in that group. The shadow may be weak or powerful, yet it always exists. It is a reflection of everything the leaders does and says.

Not “walking” the talk

Whenever a company begins to make statements about desired behaviors and people don’t see those behaviors being modeled at the top, there is a lack of integrity:

  • Increased teamwork and cross-organizational collaboration is preached, yet the senior team does not collaborate across divisional lines
  • The organization is seen cutting back on expenses, yet the senior team doesn’t change any of its special perks
  • People are asked to be accountable for results, while the senior team members continue to subtly blame one another for lack of results.

Organizations are shadows of their leaders

Because of the critical need for the senior team to role model the new culture, it is the group that first needs to come together to define the guiding behaviors for the rest of the organization. When the values don’t live in the senior team, the probability that the organization will live the values is low.

In order to build a winning culture, the top teams must be seen by the organization as living the values and walking the talk.


Organizations are shadows of their leaders - Corporate Culture


The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.


Short URL & Title:
The organizational shadow impact —

Share it:
If you enjoyed this article, please take 5 seconds to share it on your social network. Thanks!

Torben Rick
The organizational shadow impact


Previous Article
Build a culture that supports strategy implementation
Build a culture that supports strategy implementation

A strategy that is at odds with a company’s culture is doomed To right an...

Next Article
Top 20+ social media impact on business
Top 20+ social media impact on business

Impact of social media in today’s business world The rise of social media...

Get the Latest People Performance & Human Capital Resources