In my last post, I discussed the critical importance of the CEO living and demonstrating the same values he or she is encouraging for the company. The Conference Board took this a step further in an article on “Leadership as Performance Art.”
“At some point, leaders of growing midsize companies realize that they are shapers of a corporate culture in which their every decision, every word and gesture are carefully scrutinized for meaning – and consistency with corporate values. Darden Restaurants’ [CEO Clarence] Otis told The New York Times that what surprised him most about his rise through a series of leadership posts was ‘how amplified everything you say or do is.’ You have to be very intentional about what you say and do, he added. Otherwise, it becomes a ‘directive,’ even when you don’t mean it to be.”
Of course employees, at all levels, look to the CEO for guidance, even if in just what kinds of behavior are acceptable. One would hope the CEO in question is more like Warren Buffet and less like Dennis Kozlowski. It’s incumbent on the CEO to set the tone of expectation throughout the organization.
That’s why one of our tenets of strategic recognition is to ensure executive sponsorship of the program. If you’re goal is to create a culture of recognition through which you can actively manage the social architecture of your organization, then the CEO must be fully on board with the effort – to the point where he or she is also actively and frequently recognizing employees for demonstrating company values in their daily work.
What example is your CEO setting in your organization? Do you see employees across the company emulating the CEO, for better or for worse?