The employee experience is the true gauge of an organization’s culture. Cultures often represent the values of senior management.

The behaviors of the leaders driving the culture trickle down to the employee experience. For a conscious culture, it becomes critical to instill a culture-oriented leadership team that behaves consistently with the well-defined intentional behaviors cited in the organization’s values.

Employees look to the leaders to see if they are doing what they advocate. Each leader must set a positive personal example for all to see, modeling effective ways to get work done with people. If one of the values is “do the right thing”, employees will easily spot the moments a leader goes down the wrong side of a slippery ethical path. This modeling gives others permission to do the same.

Unintentional counterproductive actions will define the culture more than words written on the statement of values. Leadership behaviors matter!

Leadership Blind Spots

We don’t know what we don’t know. All leaders have blind spots, or a skill that has not been fully developed, and brings with it unintentional impact. In a recent executive coaching call I had with a leader, he learned he wanted to lead from compassion and yet his behavior was not consistently aligned to that intention.

It is common for leaders to underestimate their blind spots. Data suggests that leaders rate themselves higher in evaluations than peers, bosses and direct reports rate them. Awareness of this trait will bring a leader one step closer to working intentionally towards their culture goals.

Moving from Unconscious to Conscious

Who you are determines how you lead, which determines how groups and the organization function. By only seeing yourself from inside your head, you have a limited view of your true impact.

The best way to gain insight into your actual impact is to ask those around you to share their experience confidentially. This is effectively executed through electronic and interview 360s. Electronic 360s are behavior-based surveys, sometimes tied to the specific desirable behaviors defined in the culture, taken by the boss, direct reports, peers and self. Often they have national and level comparisons that provide valuable insights.

According to 3DGroup’s 2020 Current practices in 360 feedback, 77% of respondents said a 1:1 debrief is “essential” to the 360 process. Using an outside executive coach for the debrief provides the leader with a safe space to explore both strengths and development opportunities.

Interview 360s offer a greater depth of insights since the executive coach has the opportunity to ask key follow up questions. Some organizations use both an electronic and interview 360 process along with personality assessments.

When done well, the confidential summary report ensures insights into the leader’s key strengths and derailers with identifiable behaviors and impact. This summary creates a clear path to leveling up the leader.

From Conscious to Change

Change is not easy. Even when the path is laid out with coaching goals, something new on the outside requires a shift on the inside. Homeostasis is the natural tendency. We all get pulled to what we have done before, to what is familiar, so it becomes easier to backslide. A good executive coach holds their clients accountable to the new desired state. Growth is the ability to make mistakes and learn from them. The experience of executive coaching allows a shift from the pattern of outgrown behaviors to a new approach of what is possible.

Having coached executives at top organizations like Cisco (#1 best place to work in the US in 2020) and Salesforce (#4 best place to work in the US in 2020), I have worked with leaders who are willing to take risks to become a better leader. I am honored to be their “co-pilot” on their journey that meets business goals and can also lead to deeper experiences in and out of work.

Lead the culture by leading yourself in an intentional direction. Move the culture by consciously choosing what you do. Ensure the employee experience is engaging and thriving because you care enough to learn and make changes to your blind spots. Shift away from unintentional to intentional impact. Be a conscious leader that models leadership for others. If not now, then when?

To learn more about whether Russ Elliot is the right executive coach for you and to schedule a free good fit conversation, go to

Russ Elliot is the founder, chief consultant and executive coach of the Conscious Culture Group®, a culture consulting and executive coaching company focused on creating unique intentional cultures that are great places to work. The Conscious Culture Group® builds a bridge between the leadership’s vision and the employee experience through customized solutions. Russ serves as a consultant, executive coach, educator, trainer and speaker.

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