“Being Responsive and Responsible” – key attribute of leaders for healthy effective culture

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There have been numerous articles and blog posts that explicate positive attributes and qualities of leaders. Recently, I read an article The Missing Link in Culture Success: An Interview with Dr. Robert A. Cooke on LinkedIn and all the details on culture, climate, leadership prescriptive behaviors and constructive culture were very well articulated.

Leaders need to be role models for their team and organization. They need to exemplify constructive behaviors, be responsive and responsible and walk the talk so that members within the team and organization model those behaviors. To establish integrity and trust, leaders need to practice the desired behaviors before preaching to others and asking them to practice. Leaders need to understand that their own shadows have a ripple effect – positive or negative – as the members tend to practice those behaviors that their leaders elicit. Sadly, some of the leaders don’t realize the kind of impact they create on their members.

I’ve come across leaders who expect their team to respond to their emails, chat messages, call, and/or task completion on an ASAP basis, sometimes within fraction of minutes. However, the same leaders fail to respond similarly to their team members. The team has to wait for their leaders response patiently. But, do the leaders have the same patience? If a leader doesn’t respond, an implicit assumption has to be made – ‘the leader may be busy with meetings or calls’. On the contrary, when a team member doesn’t respond or complete the task on time, the implicit assumption ‘the employee is becoming irresponsible and not serious about her responsibilities” is made. The member’s responsibility and responsiveness is questioned and lack of trust starts eroding the professional relationship. The leader tells his team that he will address the critical items within a time frame but the time passes by and one more week flies off. Can this behavior be referred as ‘responsive and responsible’ behavior? Will this be acceptable when a member elicits the same behavior?

When leaders fail to practice constructive behaviors, how can an organization have a healthy effective culture? Leaders have to take the step to practice ‘the buck stops here’ and understand that their behaviors shape the culture of their organization. What are the various ways to tread on this constructive path (for e.g. leadership coaching, social intelligence awareness)? How can current leaders and to-be-leaders take that first step toward constructive healthy effective culture?

Have you experienced the above with your leaders or heard similar stories from others? Was an effort made toward leadership behavior change? If yes, what approaches were institutionalized? Feel free to share your experiences and the good practices adopted. I hope that the discussions that stem from this post will help many of us to tread or plan towards a from-to cultural shift.

Author: Lakshmi CV