Your management culture is, at heart, your patterns of behaviour.
We all like a rags-to-riches story. It’s the person who starts with nothing and ends up as the CEO. We love the fairy-tale of battling and beating the low probability of success.
The reality is both simpler and boring. It’s this: we win because we repeat the patterns that we’ve already established.
Large-scale research in the USA shows that high performance comes from companies with strong management cultures. Recent research in the UK found that the companies handling the Covid pandemic best are those that already had healthy, strong management cultures. These companies were faster to introduce homeworking, better at moving to online sales, and effective at keeping their productivity high.
The bottom line is: management culture is statistically an excellent predictor of long-term growth, innovation, and profitability.
If you want to be the best tomorrow – as a leader or a company – start working on your management culture today.
What culture patterns are in your black box?
The airline industry is a good example of how to upgrade your management practices across the globe. Think of cockpit management practices and plane accidents. Because the black boxes record everything that is said and done in the cockpit, airlines could analyse the interpersonal dynamics between the captain and the crew.
A high number of crashes used to be caused by poor management practices. The first officer or flight engineer recognised the danger and either did a poor job of communicating it or were ignored by the captain.
Today, this rarely happens because airline operators have improved the cockpit management culture.
Replay and Recognise
We know that fear and frustration in a management culture lead to blaming, avoiding problems, and attacks on others. You see it in the monthly management meeting in low-performing global business units. The global managers seem to be in a secret game of, “Don’t challenge me now and I won’t challenge you next month.” You know this type of meeting. They show the good data, hide the bad data. The meeting drifts on. There’s no robust challenge and no help.
The best global management groups have stronger practices. They don’t understand every corner of the global market better than their competitors. They don’t always know the processes in every local operation. What they do is they speak out and they speak up. They continuously engage at an emotional and intellectual level. They have a practice of discussing the uncomfortable truth when they know the pattern of behaviour isn’t working.
As a result, they are more open to replaying the situations that made them successful and recognising what they did well.
These groups establish a pattern of playing to their strengths and managing their weaknesses. And that’s what gets them ahead of their competitors and keeps them there.