Edgar Schein: Insights from the Fifth Edition of Organizational Culture and Leadership
Edgar Schein and the subject of organizational culture are forever linked due to his pioneering efforts in the field. His hallmark book, Organizational Culture and Leadership1, has been a resource for more than 30 years. Ed shared insights from an upcoming fifth edition (now released) of this important book during an interview at the Human Synergistics Ultimate Culture Conference.
Culture experts and enthusiasts recently gathered in San Francisco for the 2nd Annual Ultimate Culture Conference. A theme of the day was that most leaders recognize culture as a critical factor for success, but it remains an elusive concept and has become an overused word. To kick off the conference, Tim Kuppler interviewed Rob Cooke, CEO of Human Synergistics, to explore culture along with some related constructs (like climate) that are sometimes confused or used interchangeably with it. Some of Rob’s answers to Tim’s questions are summarized here.
Last month I had the privilege of attending the 2nd Annual Ultimate Culture Conference in San Francisco, hosted by Human Synergistics. One of many reasons for me to take the 12-hour flight from Switzerland was to be in the company of thought leaders in workplace culture, such as Dr. Edgar Schein. Among the many insights he shared, one in particular struck a chord with me: the different methods of surveying for culture data. Dr. Schein described two-dimensional (2D), 3D and 4D views one can take when trying to understand a company’s culture. My experience is similar, and it prompted me to draw out the following analogy.
In an uncertain economy, and in VUCA times, empathy may seem like a “nice-to-have” leadership skill or culture asset. Instead, I propose that it is empathy that often serves as a catalyst for a Constructive culture.1
A Constructive culture, as defined by Human Synergistics (HS), is characterized by strong norms for four behavioral styles—Achievement, Self-Actualizing, Humanistic-Encouraging, and Affiliative (see profile).
Seasoned leaders know that the road to a successful change management process is not always a smooth one. Strategy, structure, tech, resources, and capacity all may be in place and positioned for an effective effort. However, what are often missed are factors that can be crucial to success and that can blindside the unwary leader. In two words: Culture and Conflict.