I really like Joss Stone. She has a voice and a style that seems to have been grafted onto her 20-something physique. I’m also willing to confess that I sometimes find myself humming along to Jamie Cullum or Katie Melua, very talented artists in their own right.

But after I’ve finally downloaded an album or two, I’ll inevitably turn on the radio and have a chance encounter with Billie Holiday or Sarah Vaughan and instantly regain a sense of perspective about my recently purchased sixth-form soul.

I really don’t want to sound like a grumpy old man. But for me, you really do have to have lived a little before you can authentically transmit the ebb and flow of love and life and all the other intricacies of relationships.

This may seem like a bizarre subject but my contentious pop v blues thesis does have some resonance (honest!) when reflecting on the importance of culture development as a driver of sustainable organisation change. Why? Because it frankly takes a mature attitude (true soul, if you like) from the leadership team to appreciate the importance and therefore the value of internal culture development.

In my experience, especially in these troubled times, true leaders who’ve experienced the power of cultural transformation won’t be the ones issuing popular sound-bites, or schmultzy metaphors. They most definitely won’t be promoting internal marketing to justify, post-rationalise or even sweep up after change.

They will be the ones who will be kicking off the change process by consulting people. They will be passionate about engaging employees with the big picture, goals, the desired culture and the honest change process. Furthermore they will be role modelling the change they want to see, not just talking about or delegating it. These leaders know that effective culture development is critical to achieving change. They appreciate that it isn’t a reactive tool to be used to post-rationalise the new world experienced by the survivors.

So the moral of this tale is, if you’ve got to engage your employees with change (and in this environment, who hasn’t?), better make sure you look beyond the trendy purveyors of pop. It’s worth consulting your leadership back catalogue. There will be plenty of material available – and the tunes are classics for a reason.

Change and engagement consultant,Ian Buckingham, is the author of a number of case-study-based employee and brand engagement books. [email protected].

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