Which Comes First, Culture or Behavior?

Easy.  Behavior comes first.  And its not a chicken-or-the-egg kind of thing.  The culture of an organization is first created by the behavior of its leaders that are then reflected across the organization. Employees remember about 1% of what a leader says but 100% of what a leader does.

This means that culture develops in an organization either unintentionally or intentionally.  If an organization is haphazard and inconsistent in the selection and development of its leaders, than the culture is haphazard and inconsistent as well.  Leaders create an organization’s culture whether they planned to or not.

Intentional culture change starts by identifying the leadership behaviors (competencies) that reflect a high-performing culture.  By selecting leaders on the competencies and developing the target competencies in present and future leaders, culture can be sustained or improved.  The culture pipeline can also be filled from the bottom-up by selecting entry-level employees on the culture-critical competencies.

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