Organisational culture for leaders: What you need to know

Business people working in the office.

More than mere lip service, organisational culture can speak volumes about a company – and create incredible leaders in the process.

Collaboration, productivity and shared understanding make good work happen. But it’s organisational culture that helps to raise the bar of teams and companies to the next level, turning good work into extraordinary work.

Coupled with strong leadership, organisational culture is a powerful means of creating healthy, positive and driven companies. But how do people in positions of leadership get to grips with what can be such an abstract, intangible concept?

We’ll define organisational culture in more detail, run through why it’s so vital in today’s workplace and how it’s created, along with a range of other related topics below…

What is organisational culture?

Organisational culture can be hard to define, but broadly, it refers to the collection of values, ideals and norms shared across a company. As such it plays a large role in defining your work environment.

Essentially, it’s what makes your company different from other companies and when fully implemented and practised, it can lead to greater performance across the board.

Organisational culture differs from things like mission statements. Culture flourishes through actions and behaviours; we can see it in things like a strong work/life balance, a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and even how a manager deals with a mistake made by an employee. Put simply, it has the power to affect everything within a company.

Happy business team having a talk during a meeting in the office. Focus is on young businessman.

Why is organisational culture important?

As we hinted at earlier, organisational culture is what elevates a company. A strong, positive culture lets team members thrive, become more engaged with their duties, and lets them feel supported in everything they do.

And since it’s so far-reaching, it can help to improve everything that keeps a company functioning as smoothly as possible – including onboarding, recruiting and just about every other internal process.

At a glance, a strong organisational culture allows you to:

– Create team-oriented approaches to optimise collaboration

– Reduce friction among team members

– Create an inclusive, welcoming atmosphere regardless of gender, race or identity

– Align with the company’s overarching mission

– Put in place standards for teamwork, collaboration and team building across the company

What influences organisational culture?

There are a whole host of qualities which influence organisational culture, including…

Meaningful work

With so much of their time spent at work, making sure their duties matter to them is vital. When they feel connected to what they do, they can remain engaged and create work that impacts their team, and the company as a whole, in a positive way.

Appreciation for employees

When your best and brightest know they’re appreciated, they’re more likely to stay put. Celebrating career milestones and achievements is a great way of contributing to organisational culture, and lets your top talent know that they’re recognised and valued for their efforts.

Staff wellbeing

Strong physical and mental wellbeing is a big part of strong organisational culture – now more than ever. Coming off two years of unprecedented change due to the pandemic, employees will have certainly felt its effects. A strong support system that they can rely on when they’re feeling under pressure is vital, reducing the chance of burnout, sick leave, and turnover.

Office colleagues having casual discussion during meeting in conference room. Group of men and women sitting in conference room and smiling.


That wellbeing also plays into the connections we make with others on our team too. If certain team members feel cut off from the rest, then that distance could make collaboration difficult, and decrease the enthusiasm they have for their role.


Of course, if those in senior positions can demonstrate the values their company holds dear, then it helps to uphold and reinforce these beliefs. When employees see that their line manager is setting a positive example, they’re more likely to follow suit, which helps to benefit all aspects of organisational culture.

Aspects of organisational culture

Every organisational culture is, of course, going to be different from the next. However, there are certain aspects that are bound to pop up more than others. The following qualities are aspects that you might want to think about instilling across your team or looking for in a new team.


Are the company’s goals and the employees’ motivations on the same page? Alignment with one another ensures greater chances of success across vision, purpose and goals.


When there’s trust within teams and across companies, people are more likely to be comfortable expressing themselves without reproach.


Of course, you’re at work to work. When a team takes pride in its performance, they can motivate themselves, and each other, to go above and beyond when it comes to productivity.


Change is unexpected, even at the best of times. Teams who are dynamic, adaptable and resilient in the face of it are able to respond positively to incoming shifts in the status quo.


Much like trust, integrity is an essential team quality. When people are honest and transparent with each other, it allows them to make decisions, interpret results and work to their fullest with ease.


Teams and companies who constantly innovate are more progressive and forward-thinking in what they do, which allows them to think more creatively when it comes to a range of different business needs.

Group of business persons having a meeting in a closed glass conference room

Types of organisational culture with examples

In academic approaches to organisational culture, it’s been stated that there are four main types. We’ll take a look at what each of these entails below.

Clan Culture

It’s not uncommon for certain companies to refer to their employees as family. In such companies, employee involvement, friendliness and loyalty take precedence over everything else.

Teamwork and collaboration are also big features of these clans, while the wellbeing of employees is also highly valued. Google would be an example of a clan culture.

Adhocracy Culture

Also known as “create culture”, companies with an adhocracy culture aren’t afraid to take risks. Equipped with vast amounts of autonomy and creative freedom, employees are encouraged to think outside the box when it comes to their ideas.

As such, growth and innovation are common occurrences, which makes it a culture that many start-ups adhere to. Sound familiar? These are the very same principles that have led Apple to success throughout history.

Market Culture

Market cultures are no-nonsense, get-the-job-done types who value results above all else. And in the race to accomplish what they set out to do, that means competition is fierce.

As a result, such cultures make for a high-pressure environment, although to goal-oriented employees, the reward is more than worth the effort. As leaders in their field, both Amazon and Tesla would be examples of market culture, constantly striving to bring new products and services to market before anyone else.

Inside view of an office building with blurred motion

Hierarchy Culture

Marked by strict procedures and structures, hierarchy cultures have a discernible chain of command, can be resistant to innovation, and carry out decisions based on traditional processes. Because of this, efficiency and uniformity are very much the norm, allowing teams to function like clockwork.

An example of such a culture would be Ford, a company that functions with no less than seventeen levels of management.

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