Some time ago, after two years of sustained growth, a company’s management decided to invest in a fabrication facility by means of a significant bank loan. This company’s clients depended heavily on the price of minerals. Months later commodities prices fell, and several significant orders from important clients were postponed.
Facing a very tight financial situation, the executive committee made some hard decisions to cut expenses. What was not postponed, however, was acquiring the CEO’s new company-paid Lexus-type SUV.
The point in this real story is not whether spending in a luxury car made financial sense in the big picture or not. The point is that one would expect coherence between the decisions made company-wide and the decisions the CEO makes upon his or her own situation.
The most powerful form of communication for a leader is not great copy or a powerful speech but her own conduct and example. This is also true for an organization’s culture, which is not transmitted by policies but by the behavior of their leaders.
A manager whose behavior and decisions are coherent with what she asks of others can make the difference between employees being commited and willing to go the extra mile when needed, or being passive spectators –or worse, critical commentators– of the company’s situation.