According to Harsh Mariwala, Chairman of Marico,”Culture gets built when the leadership starts following that culture – when they walk the talk.”

Frankly, it all begins at the top.

While organizational leadership is a great quality, however it is difficult to define it comprehensively. Many aspects of human behaviour go into building a leader and that too when they are exercised in balance, such as balance between micro management and delegation, balance between freedom and discipline and so on and so forth.

Instead of trying to nail down leadership, I have tried to list out a few mis-leadership traits, which are surely going to marginalize an organization, if not completely destroy it. And it doesn’t matter if you are working for a startup or a large enterprise, the basic mis-traits of any organisation essentially remain the same – 

  • Encouraging and building functional silos instead of a well connected wholesome entity working together to meet customer needs. Silos lead to functional heads who are more interested in protecting their own turf and egos rather than listening to what the external or internal customer is saying. Sometimes, it could get to such a ridiculous level (and I have experienced it) that the functional heads feel insecure if their team members even interact with other heads because it may expose the gross mismanagement within their function. Every functional head paints a great picture to make the CEO feel good, but the customers may know the real story.
  • Building a culture of living with problems. This one comes directly from the CEOs desk! If the CEO doesn’t hold his direct team accountable for observing and solving problems as a routine habit, the team does not hold its direct reportees responsible, and the organization gets into the rut of living with the same problem day in and day out  – wasting time and resources. Living with problems as a routine also breeds the culture of no sanctity of a commitment made, since you can always find an excuse by pointing to another problem!

It is actually funny how deep this problem can become. A friend of mine who works for a company claiming to be a leader in the digital space tells me that they can’t get their own internal video conference system to work foolproof for the last couple of months. The problem is discussed in every management meeting, but every time a new problem is highlighted as an excuse for failure. It seems that the CEO just laughs about it and lets it pass. On the other hand, employees have got used to living with a bad video conf system and spend 15-30 minutes before every call to escalate, fire fight and finally find a workaround for the perennial issue.

  • Trusting your “informant” more than your direct report.  Some people are political by their nature. It is in their genes. Somewhere deep inside, they are insecure and have a problem in promoting an open communication, and trusting people who are more “effective” than they themselves. No one can save an organization where such people are in leadership role. They would “plant their informants” across the hierarchy, so as to play politics on their own direct reports! On the other hand, the informant or ‘CEO ka pappu’, whatever you choose to call him, is in general a person whose productivity is low and is not worthy of being in the organization. He exists in the organization only because he provides the “side channel” to reinforce the big boss’s bias and prejudices. Such organizations loose good productive people as good people don’t want to waste their time in working with a weasel and play the never ending manipulating game.

What I have mentioned here are a few traits of a company culture that you should totally be wary of. It is critical to identify these traits, for only then will you either decide to deal with them, or turn away from them.

In conclusion, I would like to say that every organisation is different and you yourself are an individual being. Work for a company wherein the culture aligns itself to your values and requirements. Pick and choose wisely – for it will be your second home !!

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