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Touching back on my last blog I mentioned that culture needs to become a strategic business priority (like sales, profit, etc.) and not just a HR priority.

boat with leader Source:

Leadership teams can start the creation of high performance cultures by implementing the following 6 steps:

1. Establish a sense of urgency

They need to make it clear that the current culture needs to change, articulate the vision and business case, and describe the opportunity (as John P. Kotter states in his book The 8-Step Process for Leading Change) in a way that appeals to the hearts and minds of people.

2. Develop a set of strategic beliefs

These are the beliefs senior executives have about their organisation’s environment that enables shaping business strategy e.g. Dell believed that customers would, if the price was right, buy computers from a catalogue rather than go to computer stores as the conventional wisdom dictated they would. They created a $7 billion business.

3. Develop a set of values

Values enable the organisation to act on its strategic beliefs and implement their strategy the right way. Values shape the culture of an organisation, define its character and serve as a foundation in how people act and make decisions. Dell’s values supporting its strategy and strategic beliefs include: Delivering results that make a positive difference; leading with openness and optimism and winning with integrity.

4. Capitalise on quick wins

Capitalize on and honour your cultural strengths and act quickly on any critical behaviour changes required.

5. Challenge those norms that get on the way of high performance

Norms are informal guidelines about what is considered normal (what is correct or incorrect) behaviour in a particular situation. Peer pressure to conform to team norms is a powerful influencer on people’s behaviour, and it is often a major barrier affecting change. It is always easier to go along with the norm than trying to change it…. Common samples of negative norms in some organisations: Perception that it is ok to yell at people, ignore people’s opinions, etc.

6. Role model and recognise the desired behaviours

As Gandhi wonderfully put it “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This empowers action and helps embed the desired culture you are trying to create. Behaviour is a function of its consequences. Behaviour that results in pleasant consequences is more likely to be repeated, and behaviour that results in unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated. According to B. F. Skinner and reinforcement theory “future behavioural choices are affected by the consequences of earlier behaviours”. The argument is clear; if you want people to be brave and challenge the status quo, you shouldn’t make them feel awkward or like difficult employees when they do. Furthermore, if want people to contribute at meetings make sure you actively listen to them and act on their suggestions and ideas.


On his famous article “On the folly of rewarding A while hoping for B” Steven Kerr argues that the way in which we reward and recognise people doesn’t always deliver the desired results. We all have being in situations where we are told to plan for long-term growth yet we are rewarded purely on quarterly earnings; we are asked to be a team player and are rewarded solely on our individual efforts; we are told that the way in which results are achieved is important and yet we promote people who achieve results the wrong / in a Machiavellian way. A friend of mine was recently at a hospital and he complained to the ward manager about the doctor’s bad manners and rudeness. The answer he got was “do you want to be treated by the best heart doctor in the country or a not so good doctor but with a really nice bed manner?”.

My argument is why can’t we have both?

Pedro Angulo is the Programme Director of the IMI Diploma in Strategic HR Management starting on 16th November 2016. Pedro is an Organisational Effectiveness Business Partner in AIB and Chairperson of the Irish EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council). He is a motivational speaker and regular presenter at HR, coaching, change and business conferences / events. _____________________________________ [post_title] => 6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 6-strategies-start-creation-high-performance-cultures [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )


11th Jul 2023

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5 Priorities for Becoming a More Strategic People Manager
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The Rise of the Kinetic Leader: Embracing Soft Skills in Technology Leadership

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, the role of technology leaders has transformed significantly. While technical expertise remains crucial, organisations now recognise the growing importance of soft skills in translating business needs into effective technology solutions. A survey conducted by Deloitte and WSJ Intelligence revealed that 87% of CEOs believe that understanding business operations, strategy, and innovation is more critical than deep expertise in technology systems. This shift has given rise to a new breed of leaders known as “kinetic leaders” who possess a unique combination of visionary thinking, adaptability, emotional intelligence, and a relentless drive for change. In this blog post, we explore the characteristics of a kinetic leader and discuss how developing soft skills can pave the way for success in technology leadership.

The Kinetic Leader: A Change-Oriented Visionary

Kinetic leaders are described as tenacious, future-focused innovators who can guide business-technology strategy, effectively communicate with the C-suite and board, and drive mission-critical enterprise transformation. Unlike leaders who struggle to balance vision and execution, the kinetic leader sees these qualities as complementary strengths. They are constantly in motion, actively instigating and embracing change, and following through with its execution.

Essential Soft Skills for Technology Leaders

To embody the qualities of a kinetic leader, technology professionals must develop and nurture a range of essential soft skills. Here are three key attributes that can help foster success.

Creativity: With technology becoming increasingly intertwined with business strategy, creativity is essential for envisioning innovative solutions to complex challenges. Technology leaders must be able to think outside the box, encouraging their teams to explore unconventional ideas and approaches.

Cognitive Flexibility: The ability to adapt and embrace new perspectives is crucial in a rapidly changing technological landscape. Cognitive flexibility allows leaders to pivot strategies, consider alternative viewpoints, and remain open to emerging trends and technologies.

Emotional Intelligence: As technology leaders interact with various stakeholders, emotional intelligence plays a vital role in building relationships, managing conflicts, and fostering collaboration. Leaders with high emotional intelligence can empathize with others, navigate difficult conversations, and inspire their teams to achieve their full potential.

The Benefits of Soft Skills in Technology Leadership

By embracing soft skills, technology leaders can unlock numerous benefits for themselves and their organizations.

Agility: Soft skills enable leaders to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, making them more agile in responding to evolving business needs and technological advancements.

Customer-Centricity: Leaders with strong soft skills understand the importance of aligning technology solutions with customer requirements. By prioritizing customer-centricity, they can drive innovation that directly addresses user needs.

Growth Focus: Soft skills foster a growth-oriented mindset, enabling leaders to continuously learn, develop, and guide their teams toward new opportunities for growth and improvement.

Stakeholder Engagement: Effective communication, emotional intelligence, and influence allow leaders to engage and inspire stakeholders at all levels, building strong relationships and driving successful collaboration.

As technology increasingly becomes intertwined with business strategy, the demand for kinetic leaders continues to rise. By combining technical expertise with essential soft skills such as creativity, cognitive flexibility, and emotional intelligence, technology leaders can become change-oriented visionaries capable of driving enterprise transformation. Programmes focused on developing these skills provide a valuable platform for aspiring leaders to enhance their capabilities and build networks across organisations. Embracing soft skills empowers technology leaders to navigate the complexities of the digital age and thrive in an ever-changing business environment.

If you’re interested in building the leadership skills of your technical team members, explore the IMI Leading in Cybersecurity Programme, or the Leadership Development for ICT Professionals Programme.