One of the most common issues we find when doing our culture assessments is that habits, traditions, and sacred cows exist in every culture. And until someone points them out, along with their effect on the organization, nothing will change.
This always reminds me of the well-known fable called, The Emperor Has No Clothes. The story is commonly used as a metaphor for any obvious truth denied by the majority despite the evidence they see before them. And what you don’t know, really can hurt you.
The kind truth is the best antidote for this cultural phenomenon. I’ve had several heart to heart talks with leaders where I’ve had to tell them that they are a major part of the problem. One situation involved a CEO whose behavior was not consistent with the values or standards. It was only when he learned the truth that he could make the necessary changes needed. When I gave him specific examples of behaviors that others were seeing, he was somewhat shocked, but very grateful that I would not only level with him, but coach him in making necessary changes. The kind truth works.
Over the years my team and I have become masters at delivering the kind truth. We believe it is essential in building trust and making necessary change. If there is a naked emperor wandering your halls, you may want to help him look into the mirror and make some necessary changes.