Implementing a top-down strategy

When thinking about how to change and influence a company’s culture, people across the business have different roles to play.

Senior leaders have significant responsibility when it comes to setting the tone for an organisation’s culture.

“Organisations become shadows of their leaders”

Larry Senn

As part of the Orange Table debate, Westfield Health CEO, Dave Capper, highlighted the importance of senior leaders practising what they preach when it comes to company culture.

“Our colleagues see through lack of authenticity”, says Dave, emphasising that senior leaders need to walk the walk when it comes to culture.

Donna Griffiths added, “we can’t have frameworks, policies, procedures and values in place that say on paper this is what we do, but actually what we’re demonstrating is the opposite”.

But holding a mirror up to the senior leadership team can be difficult, especially in smaller organisations where budgets can be tight.

A recent study1 found that while 72% of SME leaders agreed company culture was important to business, 60% thought it was a ‘nice to have’ rather than an essential business requirement.

Having a great culture does bring real business benefits. A workforce that’s happy and engaged is more productive. Research by Gallup showed that highly engaged teams were 21% more profitable, with a 41% reduction in absenteeism and 59% less turnover2.

Seeing senior leaders demonstrate the values that underpin a company culture gives employees the confidence to live those values and speak up when something isn’t right.

According to Louisa Harrison-Walker, Founder of Benchmark Recruitment, this means leaders are more likely to find out about issues in their business quickly as employees have the confidence to voice concerns.

1The Culture Economy report, Breathe HR:

2The Right Culture: Not Just About Employee Satisfaction, Gallup: