This time of year many organizations begin reviewing what worked and what didn’t work over the past year. This may leave you with some great ideas of areas that your company culture could be improved in 2017. But culture change is such an ambiguous goal; how do you even begin to tackle it? According to a recent blog from Harvard Business Review, if you want to see real change within your company culture, you should take a look at the habits and behaviors of your leaders.

It turns out that the behavior of your leaders has a greater impact on your culture than anything else you do. This is one of the reasons that making a change to company culture can be so difficult. It requires the leaders of your organization to change some of their habits and behaviors.

Take a look at your organization and examine what message your leaders are sending your employees about what is important. Do you have leaders that frequently show up late to meetings? There is no way that you can emphasize the importance of timeliness and punctuality in your culture if you leaders aren’t modeling that behavior.

Here are some ideas of how leaders can inspire real culture change within their organization by adjusting a few behaviors:

Looking to inspire employees to focus on safety? Take a page out of the book of United Airlines, who starts each meeting with a discussion of where the fire exits and stairs can be found and where employees should meet up in case of a fire. They do this to emphasize to everyone in attendance that safety is the company’s top priority.

Hoping to create a culture of open communication? Make sure that your leaders are providing employees with timely positive and negative feedback. Leaders should also solicit feedback from employees. Ask what you could be doing to make their lives easier. Also be careful about being defensive when a member of your team provides you with negative feedback. The way you react will determine whether people will be willing to come to you again.

If you want to successfully make some changes to your company culture, your leadership really needs to practice what you preach. Leadership should model the behaviors they hope to see from their employees. If you are looking for more ways to make a real impact to your company’s culture, contact an HR Business Partner at 1-800-748-5102 or