Management & Organization

The most efficient leaders clash with the company culture

Which chief executive do think is most efficient? The one whose style of management matches the culture of the company or the one whose style of management clashes? A lot of people will point at the first type of leader. But actually, research within the area of leadership show that it is often quite the opposite.

It might sound a bit irrational because more of one thing creates better results, right? Consider a company as a good steak, it tastes better with both salt and pepper. Chief executives whose style of management clash with the culture of the company add something to the company that it didn't have before and make it capable of gaining advantage from several different facets and possibilities. We might see more opportunities or we might be better at reacting in situations where the company culture perhaps dictates one direction while the style of management from the chief executive allows us to see new possibilities.

Based on data gathered from 114 CEOs and 324 members of top management teams in American organizations, scientists demonstrated that CEOs who apply a style of management that resemble the culture of the organization have a negative effect on the company’s results. Instead, companies are most efficient when the CEO’s leadership style and the organizational culture differ.

Some of the explanations from the researchers on this phenomenon are that when management style and culture are similar, redundancy occur and there is an excessive focus on the efforts that have worked well in the organization up until now. Thus, less innovative thinking is in play. But, if the company’s culture and the management style of the CEO are different then new opportunities become accessible along with more ways of handling and thinking about a challenge.

However, the researchers highlight that these results don't mean that leaders can't be poorly matched with companies. Of course they can – and there are countless examples. The researchers merely wish to encourage leaders into considering which things the organization is missing and then adapt their style of management to fulfil those needs.