Managers Are a Powerful Force for Creating (or Maintaining) Organizational Culture

The most powerful force in creating (or maintaining) organizational culture in work-groups is the personality and philosophy of life of the manager who leads the work-group. Traditional approaches to managing conflict in work-groups tend to view all members of a work-group as “equal,” but the influence of the work-group manager must be more heavily weighted because they possess formally delegated authority and are accountable for the work-group’s performance. This organizational principle about the influence of managers needs to be viewed within the context of neurophysiologic research that has identified a part of the human brain (the Amygdala) that produces and senses emotions, and functions like an open-loop system; e.g., our emotional connections to other people (like our boss) help to establish shared moods and emotional responses in entire groups of people. Like an invisible wireless network, work-group members send and receive 93% of their communication through body language and tone of voice. Using another metaphor, the patterns-of-interaction in a work-group are like a stew to which all members contribute, but the manager’s influence is the strongest seasoning. Daniel Goleman argues that employees take their emotional cues from the top – everyone watches the boss. Even when a manager is not highly visible their attitudes affect the moods and emotions of direct reports and this ripples down through the organizational levels like a domino effect creating an emotional tone throughout the organization. Over time, a manager’s ability to resonate the emotions and moods of their employees repeatedly creates either destructive or constructive patterns-of-interaction within a work-group.

For example, Matilda is a sales manager in a medical equipment company. Some days she’s your “buddy” and wants to chat over coffee, and other days she’s a “high-chair tyrant” who pounds on the table in meetings and demoralizes her direct reports with criticism and contempt.


Culture Talk™

Learn what organizational culture is and why it matters by watching Culture Talk™ – an on-line video series that explores key questions about organizational culture and how it powerfully affects day-to-day operations and the bottom-line in your organization.

Culture Talk™ Video Series

For more information on the Breckenridge Institute’s unique approach to improving your organization’s performance and sustainability go to or contact us at

Organizational Alignment Indicator™

Is your organization unable to change in the face of forces and threats from the business environment? Do you make key decisions that go unimplemented or get reversed? Are you struggling against overly complex systems that frustrate and undermine your attempts to create positive change? Does your organization’s culture act like an Invisible Bureaucracy™ that keeps you from achieving your goals and objectives? These are signs that your organization is not aligned to get the results you want. The Breckenridge Institute’s free Organizational Alignment Indicator™ will show you what this may be costing you in squandered time and energy – hidden costs that don’t appear on the Balance Sheet or Budget Statements.

Free Organizational Alignment Indicator™

Just click on the link above, complete the questions in 2-3 minutes, and your free Organizational Alignment Indicator™ report will be sent directly to you. This is the first step to making invisible bureaucracy visible and to helping your organization get the results it wants.

HBR Editor’s Blog

Every month, the senior editors of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) invite internationally recognized organizational theorists and practitioners to raise issues and answer questions about leadership and management issues on the HBR Editor’s Blog. This month, we provide Pinnacle readers with links to two important and interesting discussions (see below).

Ron Ashkenas, Does Your HR Function Complicate Things?

John Kotter, Know Your Enemy: The People Who Block Buy-In

We encourage you to join the conversation on the HBR Editor’s Blog and voice your opinions, commentary, and insights on these and other important topics.


Mark Bodnarczuk has been invited to speak at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s technical meeting on, The Consideration of Human Factors in New Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) Projects in Vienna, Austria in November 2010. The title of the presentation is, Creating, Managing, and Deconstructing Organizational Culture in New NPP Projects (see
The Breckenridge Institute® has developed a new on-line certification program for the BTI™ (Enneagram) instrument. The on-line certification program can be completed 24X7 anywhere in the world where there is Internet access in about four hours, and costs only $595. For more information on how you can use the BTI™ in your organization or with your clients go to or e-mail us at
Mark Bodnarczuk’s book, Making Invisible Bureaucracy Visible: A Guide to Assessing and Changing Organizational Culture is available at on-line world-wide at locations like

The Breckenridge Institute® is now using Michael Goldberg’s book, The 9 Ways of Working with its BTI™ certification programs and workshops. Goldberg’s book provides valuable insight into how co-workers and bosses think, what they want, and why they act the way they do. Goldberg’s book is available world-wide at on-line locations like

For a more complete listing of on-line videos, books, articles, and white papers from the Breckenridge Institute® go to

Breckenridge Institute®

If you would like information about the Breckenridge Institute’s research activities, portfolio of assessment tools, or consulting services, visit our website at Also visit

Copyright © Breckenridge Institute® 2010. All Rights Reserved
Underwater Photo: © Annie Crawley, 2010,


Culture Corner

Organizational learning, development, and planned change cannot be understood without considering culture as a primary source of resistance to change

Edgar Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership


The Organizational Alignment Indicator™ (OAI™)

Every organization is perfectly aligned to get the results they get. Because the OAI™ can be used to baseline the alignment of an entire organization or a work-group, it is typically used by top managers, business owners, and middle-managers when they are anticipating or experiencing significant change due to, substantial growth; reorganizations; a performance impasse; changes in leadership; change in strategic direction; decline in business performance; or mergers and acquisitions. The OAI™ can also be used as an effective alternative to 360-degree reviews because it allows you to evaluate a manager’s leadership and management skills, within the context of an organization’s structures, systems, and culture. The OAI™ will help you align your organization’s strategy, execution, and organizational culture to get the results you want. It will also show you what misaligned structures, systems, and culture may be costing you in squandered time and energy – valuable resources that become unavailable to help you achieve your goals and objectives.


Contact the Breckenridge Institute® for details on how you can begin using this exciting new tool in your organization, or with your clients (

Books and Articles

Michael J. Goldberg, The 9 Ways of Working

The 9 Ways of Working introduces the nine personality styles of the Enneagram, a classic, highly powerful approach to work and life. Each of the Enneagram’s nine types has a distinct worldview that determines how they think, what they want, and why they act the way they do. You’ll recognize the personality types of the people you work with – colleagues, clients, bosses – as well as your own. And you’ll discover the most effective ways to work with these people:

  • The Perfectionist gets things done right – regardless of the consequences.
  • The Helper nurtures others’ careers – and demands to be appreciated for it.
  • The Producer works hard to succeed – but can burn out in overwork.
  • The Connoisseur explores his or her creativity and deep feelings – but may get lost in them.
  • The Sage craves data, theories and insight – but may forget the human element.
  • The Troubleshooter knows the secrets and who can be trusted – but can get mighty paranoid.
  • The Visionary inspires with brilliant, fun, imaginative ideas – but leaves closure to others.
  • The Top Dog exercises leadership – but may end up as a vengeful bully.
  • The Mediator wants everybody working as a conflict-free team – but may forget his or her own goals.

Drawing on twenty-five years of teaching and consulting, Michael Goldberg’s rich descriptions catch the ‘aha!’ of each style with insightful anecdotes and real-life stories. He shows how each style is likely to connect with or miss the others, what kind of leadership is right for certain situations, and how each style makes important decisions and gets work done. You’ll see the special gifts and talents of each style, their limits and blind spots, and when they will shine and when they will wilt. The 9 Ways of Working is packed with practical tips and cautions for each style and for working with each style.” The 9 Ways of Working, is published by Da Capo Press and is available on