Climate and Culture, Business, Management and Leadership

By   /  20 October 2011  /  Comments Off on Climate and Culture, Business, Management and Leadership

Leadership, the Productive and Moral Application of Influence (stop talking about culture and start thinking about climate)

Can you feel a culture; well I would like to believe that you can feel a climate which impacts upon and creates an organization’s culture? We often hear the rhetoric around leadership, engagement, values and being humanistic but do we really understand what this means? We believe at Jasper that you can walk into a company and feel its climate DNA or an organisations personality, and in any change programme no matter what the primary objective for this shift, we need to start with “Change What to What”?

The first place is taking the temperature of the organisation, what do people really think about what it purports to be, and what it actually is? We believe that organisations often suffer from a form of corporate blindness around being realistic about what they have and where they are starting from. Given that Jasper works from an evidence-based perspective it is critical that a number of litmus tests are undertaken which take the temperature of the organisation and provides some hard starting data. We have the cutting edge tools to do this and before using any tool lets take a look at defining just what is meant by Climate and Culture. The word climate is rarely used to describe what we want to change usually culture is mentioned: “We need to change the Culture”. Fine, from what to what and what will be the catalysts for the change, secondly how will you maintain the shift if you don’t understand what can actually neutralize all of your efforts?

There are two main models describing the relationship between climate and culture, the organisational psychologists view and the anthropological and sociological perspective. The first and older model sees climate and culture as hierarchically equivalent and distinct. This tradition separates climate (employees’ evaluation of their work environment including structures, processes and events) from culture (a more subjective description of the fundamental values of an organisation; Denison, 1996; Meyerson, 1991; Schnieder & Snyder, 1975).

This separation reflects the differing historical development of these constructs, with climate developed largely by organisational psychologists and culture developed through anthropology and sociology.

Psychological Versus Organisational Climate

Although not an active ongoing topic, there has historically been a concern among some researchers regarding the existence of climate above the level of an individual. Authors such as James and Jones (1974) differentiated psychological climate (an individual’s perceptions) with organizational climate (measured by aggregating many individuals’ perceptions) and argued that an organisational climate should perhaps only be regarded to exist if the variance between the many psychological climates was low. If the variance between psychological climates was high then perhaps no single organizational climate should be thought to exist.

Leadership Neutralizers and Leadership Substitutes

  • Leadership neutralizers – are factors that can reduce the opportunities for or effectiveness of leader influence
  • Leadership substitutes – are factors that can replace or reduce the need for leadership

Leadership neutralizers – arise from three aspects of organisations

  • Subordinate characteristics
  • Task characteristics
  • Organizational characteristics


  • Authentic followership – achieved by those who freely choose to follow based on their realistic view and assessment of the consistency of the leader’s values and behaviours, the congruence of these values with their own, and their own assessment of the leader’s authenticity, honesty and integrity in leading them.

Distributed or Shared Leadership

  • Distributed or shared leadership – refers to leadership which is jointly exercised by a number of highly interdependent, intensely collaborating and closely interacting individuals

Comparing Management and Leadership

  • Management – the exercise of influence over others using extrinsic motivation and based on externally determined legitimacy
  • Leadership – the exercise of influence over others using their intrinsic motivation and reflecting subjective, follower-based legitimation

Talk to Jasper about our Advanced Climate and Culture Assessment System (ACCAS)

Dr Marshall Potts

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