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Leadership, culture and results

We -as Mexicans- are fortunate to have the opportunity to work and collaborate locally in global companies, but this blend of cultures is not always smooth.

This week, I had the opportunity to have a meeting with Mexican entrepreneur, who had the chance to work in several global companies, before he started -15 years ago- his own business.

We as consultants were hired to make an organizational diagnosis in this company. Since the very beginning, we realized that this group is different than a regular Mexican organization.

Finally, while talking to the founder, we understood that despite this is a Mexican company, in fact, it has a different culture more close to the culture in global enterprises. It was clear; leadership es a central element to awake a way of doing business, for good or for ill, the leaders are responsible for designing the process and systems.

And as you may know, the process and systems once are in place, generate a culture, and consequently, the lifestyle quickly becomes an enabler to get the desired results, or not.

One of the cultural traits this entrepreneur miss the most, is the very straightforward way the collaborators use in global companies to interact to each other, while in Mexican companies is frequent to find the opposite, a prudent way to deliver a message expecting “not to hurt” a colleague or worst not to offend a superior

In Mexican history, back in the year, 1325 Mexico City was funded by the Nahuas, and a few years later an alliance among several natives created the Aztec empire, well, during this period the Aztecs use to “kill the messenger”, whenever they brought has news.

Maybe, that could be the origin for Mexican workers to rather keep silent, than communicate clear and loud a problem in his or her working area. Naturally, no matter if the problem is reported or not will grow till it is impossible to keep it hidden. As you can imagine, this organizational cultural trait acts as a counter-culture when the organization is trying to build a corporate culture based on prevention and continuous improvement.

In this case, the best way to evolve a culture is to design and install procedures and systems to monitor and share openly critical indicators embedded -whenever is possible- into information systems, in this way the managerial team will notice deviations as soon as they start to manifest. Then, the leader needs to set a sample of the desired new behavior, acting upon the indicators directly to fix as a team the deviations instead start a witch-hunting looking for who to blame and fire.

Moreover, if the managerial team learn how to transform undesirable deviations of critical indicators into quick and sound solutions, they will discover at the same time, a way to create a healthy learning organization.

Also, we recommend, to organize a monthly informal meeting to “celebrate” the biggest mistake of the month and even the better fix to a problem. In this way, -gradually- the managerial team, and later the rest of the organization will get used to detect and promptly communicate any weak signal inside or outside the company that could cause a problem, to tackle it immediately.

In summary, you as team leader must focus on lead by setting samples of desired behaviors and create the new procedures, policies and working processes and systems to foster the emergence of new behaviors

note: as a complement to these concepts, we invite you to see this video: https://youtu.be/LNEmEnHbpE8

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