The leadership shadow
Leaders can either make or break a culture and an employee’s experience can be hugely impacted both positively or negatively. The Leadership Shadow (TLS) is the influence and impact that leaders, particularly senior leaders, can have over their teams. The more senior the individual leader, the larger the impact. As we now know, research has shown that culture is one of the main drivers in retaining talent. 
Leaders (particularly those at the top of organisations, such as CEOs and founders), recognise that they personally have influence but often underestimate its impact on workplace culture. It’s also important to recognise that the executive team has a cumulative shadow which can be larger than the sum of its parts. How the senior team behaves together, and apart, will have an amplified impact on the culture of the business. 
It's positive to see progressive executive teams investing in their leadership skills and their collective effectiveness, but there are still many organisations who leave too much to chance. Inclusive and successful cultures take leadership, investment and energy, yet many leaders still see their responsibility to drive culture as an additional part of their role. 
It’s paramount that the senior leadership team is cohesive and truly aligned, to ensure there’s collective accountability,. Without it, silos are reinforced, perpetuating a poor culture that hinders the business, and therefore its leaders from achieving their commercial aims. 
In a recent webinar I hosted with Trapeze HR, we talked in some detail about The Leadership Shadow phenomenon – the key themes of which are summarised in the infographic above. 

Team coaching can be a game-changer 

Team coaching can be a game-changer for improving how leaders work both together AND individually. Coaching supports in the building of trust, connecting individuals with a common purpose, and providing a safe space for discussion. Through a regular review of how the team works and how its members are feeling, trust will be built. If the senior team has visible trust in one another, then a strong culture is more likely to be forged. 

Role-modelling for individual leaders 

For individual leaders, role-modelling is central to nurturing a great culture. Leaders should ask themselves: 
Am I empathetic and do I think about the impact of my actions on others? 
Do I hold myself to the same high standards I hold others? 
Do I walk the talk and am I transparent and honest in my approach? 
Are my behaviours consistent? 
Am I reflecting effectively and showing humility, and am I learning from my experiences? 
Being open about our vulnerabilities, weaknesses and emotions will only increase the trust others have in us. We’re all human. 

Take some time to reflect 

So, take some time to reflect – what’s your leadership shadow? 
And if you’d like to have a chat with us about hiring senior HR professionals to strengthen your organisation’s leadership shadow, then do get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. 

About Tom Emery 

Tom Emery is an organisational design expert and executive coach with over 20 years’ experience in human resources at CPO level. He now runs HEX, a leadership development and coaching consultancy focussed on supporting organisations and individuals to be their very best.  
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