Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Behind every great leader is a legion of ambitious yet dependable followers.

While adopting an open organizational culture may be the best way to achieve your goals as a leader, any cultural shift will be less effective if you don’t have the right people on your team. This is why it’s necessary to broach the taboo topic of removing people from your team who are getting in the way of your organization’s success.

Luckily, ex-CEO of GE Jack Welsh came up with two questions that will help you determine who is holding you back: First, does an employee fit in with the culture of your organization? And second, does he deliver results? If the answer is yes to both questions, then this person is obviously a great fit. And it’s equally clear that those who don’t get your culture and don’t deliver need to be let go.

But what about employees who get your company’s culture but don’t deliver? These people need to be retained, since culture is paramount – but they should be assigned to a coach so that they can improve their performance.

It’s trickier, however, to know what to do with those who deliver but don’t fit in with the culture you’re trying to establish. Countless leaders have fretted over cases like this, but Welsh, who has decades of experience, believes that these employees actually restrict the growth of the cultures within their teams and hamper their organizations in the long term. As such, he recommends that they be let go.

But what about bringing new team members on board? The short answer here is that diversity always wins. You’ll need a mix of dependable professionals and unpredictable mavericks. Think of a football team, with their reliable defenders and maverick playmakers. If the whole team was playing defense the whole time, they would have much lower chances of getting anywhere.

Sure, homogenous teams of dependable people are easier to lead, but they’re also less likely to take ownership and make quick decisions. In contrast, ambitious, eclectic team members help create a group that thrives on radical decision-making.

But the importance of diversity also extends beyond personality types. According to a 2015 McKinsey report, public companies with the highest amounts of ethnic and racial diversity on their teams are more profitable than their competitors. In fact, the most diverse quarter of public companies were 35 percent more likely to earn more than the industry average.

Multicultural teams mean that everyone has something special to bring to the table, and this will undoubtedly help your organization – and culture – thrive.