New book co-authored by Heidrick & Struggles’ Rose Gailey and Ian Johnston offers insights on pivoting culture to prepare for the future amidst a once-in-a-generation shift in work and office life
CHICAGO, Oct. 28, 2021 — Released today, “Future Focused: Shape Your Culture. Shape Your Future.” examines how leaders from all types of organizations have used culture to drive successful organizational change and deliver purposeful, sustained performance. The book’s release comes as the voices of employees take center stage globally. “Future Focused” serves as a practical guide for business leaders who are grappling with today’s dramatic changes to work life brought on by the pandemic and looking to sustain and drive culture through numerous points of transformation.
Building upon the book’s core principles for shaping culture, leaders can learn from the achievements of successful CEOs and reinvent culture to meet the pandemic’s myriad of forced changes, and provide steady, transparent and future-focused leadership to deliver improved business outcomes. The book highlights a number of successful company cultures through the lens of leading inspirational CEOs, including those from Anthem, Aptiv, Helen of Troy, Jack in the Box, Lumen, Yum Brands and more.
“Culture is the underpinning of great companies and supports performance during unprecedented periods of uncertainty and volatility,” said Krishnan Rajagopalan, President and CEO, Heidrick & Struggles. “Today in the C-suite, discussions on hybrid and virtual work policies are taking top priority as leaders redefine what it means to be part of an organization in remote and increasingly distributed settings. Values and mission, coalesced into a meaningful purpose, are at the core of cultures that have helped companies thrive both before and during the pandemic. This book offers sound best practices built from more than four decades of experience to guide leaders as they examine what the future will look like for their teams and workplaces, and evolve their cultures and purpose to meet the unique needs of their organizations.”
Co-authored by Rose Gailey and Ian Johnston, partners at Heidrick & Struggles and leading experts on organization acceleration, culture shaping and transforming organizations, “Future Focused” stresses that leaders who lay a solid cultural foundation, authentically commit to a set of values, and define and depend on an inspiring purpose to build companies will show more resilience and face less turmoil – and they will continue to have that advantage no matter what the future holds. With flexibility named as one of the fastest-rising job priorities in the U.S., and younger generations of workers renegotiating the centrality of work and its role in their personal lives, the authors also raise a sense of urgency for companies to start focusing on culture now and provide a straightforward framework to get started.
The new book offers four principles that highlight culture as an ecosystem, impacting all stakeholders – from employees, to customers, to shareholders. The principles define how to shape a thriving, high-performing culture in a healthy ecosystem:
- Thriving cultures require purposeful leadership.
- Transformation is rooted in personal change.
- Broad engagement is key for the culture to be lived.
- Thriving into the future requires systemic alignment.
“We are at an important inflection point in the way workplaces define culture,” commented Gailey. “More than ever, the way we are living and working today requires empathetic leadership and the ability to listen with understanding and provide a psychologically safe place for employees to voice concerns. Additionally, as we learned from our 2021 global survey of top CEOs regarding culture, leaders who link culture to strategy also outperform their peers significantly – doubling their 3 year compound growth rate for revenue. Culture, then serves to act not only as a catalyst to break through uncertainty and stabilize an organization and engage employees, but also to bolster financial performance.”
In “Future Focused”, Gailey and Johnston warn that failure to intentionally shape culture opens the door to risk, while purposeful, future-focused cultures secure mindsets and behaviors that deliver performance and minimize risk. CEOs and executive leaders must make sure that culture is systemically “hardwired” into the fabric of the organization’s HR systems, quality and operational excellence initiatives, and employee and customer experience to be sustainable.
“Communication is oxygen for organizations at all times, but most especially in times of transition,” stated Johnston. “Leaders who communicate openly, honestly, vulnerably and consistently will enable employees to weather uncertainty and move to action.”