Korn Ferry Global Study: Driving Culture Change Key Leadership Priority


LOS ANGELES, February 4, 2016 - A comprehensive global study released today by the Korn Ferry division of Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY), the preeminent global people and organizational advisory firm, demonstrates that executives see the need to make culture a priority to drive alignment, collaboration, and performance.

Korn Ferry’s “Real World Leadership” study of more than 7,500 executives from 107 countries found that “driving culture change” ranks among the top three global leadership development priorities.

“Culture is no longer seen as an afterthought when considering the business focus of an organization,” said Noah Rabinowitz, senior partner and global head of Korn Ferry’s Leadership Development Practice. “Culture is the X-factor. It’s the invisible glue that holds an organization together and ultimately makes the difference between whether an organization is able to succeed in the market or not.”

This survey affirms the critical role that leaders play in steering culture. Executives reported the most widely used strategy to improve culture is “communications,” followed by “leadership development,” and “embedding culture change in management objectives.”

In addition, the study found that “improving organizational alignment and collaboration” is the primary reason executives choose to focus on improving culture, followed by “improving organizational performance.”

Yet, research finds the alignment between strategy and culture is more often the exception than the rule in most organizations. In a 2014 Korn Ferry survey, 72 percent of respondents agreed that culture is extremely important to organizational performance. However, only 32 percent said their culture aligns with their business strategy.

The findings suggest that organizations need to make culture change a more significant aspect of their leadership development programs and overall leadership agenda. “Culture change occurs, ultimately, when a critical mass of individuals adopt new behaviors consistent with their organization’s strategic direction,” said Rabinowitz. “Leadership development can be the most effective tool to change behaviors. And when leaders change their behaviors, others do so, too.”

“We believe that talent, leadership, and culture are intrinsically linked, and they are crucial to strategic execution,” says Arvinder Dhesi, a Korn Ferry senior client partner. “It’s a mistake for top leaders to believe that culture is somehow separate from themselves or a separate project. Everything that we do contributes to the culture. There’s no culture-neutral behavior.”

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is the preeminent global people and organizational advisory firm. We help leaders, organizations, and societies succeed by releasing the full power and potential of people. Our nearly 7,000 colleagues deliver services through our Executive Search, Korn Ferry and Korn Ferry divisions.

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