Meri Armour, CEO of Memphis-based Le Bonheur Children's Hospital describes the culture-shaping initiative that began at the pediatric hospital in order to create an environment that enabled the strategic goal of providing patient and family-centered care. As the positive results spread across the hospital, the system leaders across the eight-hospital healthcare system Methodist Le Bonheur determined it was essential to create that consistent culture across all hospitals and the enterprise.

Smart leaders help shape their company's culture — instead of allowing the culture to shape the company. CEOs who have been most successful at shifting their company culture have an acute awareness of and focus on four principles for successful culture change.

align senior team

aligning the executive team is a critical first step

Leading the culture is as important as leading the strategy and structure

Culture shaping is a leader-led process. Research shows that starting at the top is critical because organizations tend to become Shadows of their Leaders. A deliberate process to create a mutually supportive, high-performance team at the top may be an obvious priority when a new CEO comes into an organization, when the executive leadership of two merging companies are brought together or during an executive-level restructuring. But the need for alignment may not be as clear in other situations even though even minor dysfunctions at the top may be obvious to the organization and mirrored down below.


Because leading the culture from the top is so important, we have developed special expertise in working with CEOs and their senior teams to help take them to a higher level of performance and effectiveness. We have done this with CEOs and senior teams of nearly 100 Fortune 500 companies and dozens of teams at the top of Global 1000 companies.

Watch this video of our client, Yum! Brands CEO David Novak, as he shares insights on creating an iconic recognition culture that drives global performance and growth


Novak describes how with Senn Delaney's guidance, he focused on building a recognition culture across 117 countries and 1.4 million employees where everyone makes a difference. Senn Delaney Chairman Dr. Larry Senn also examines why Novak exemplifies a thriving leader and shares lessons for other CEOs to successfully lead culture transformation.



Most senior teams have highly qualified and successful individual contributors but many are not as effective as a team as they could be.


In our most successful culture-shaping engagements, CEOs and their senior teams

  • understand the connection between culture, strategy and business success
  • role model the healthy, high-performance behaviors they want in their organization
  • learn what it takes to shape a culture, and their role in it
  • are seen by the organization as aligned on decisions and mutually supportive
  • make decisions for the greater good not in self interest

This creates the foundation for the work needed under the senior team to create a healthy, high-performance culture from top to bottom. (See engage full organization)