Many leaders cite “culture” as the root cause of peoples’ problems in their organisations. Often, they are unable to pinpoint the causes, even less so in identifying the symptoms when culture is heading downhill. The issue of culture rarely erupts as a single identifiable event but is usually an accumulation of various incidents. Below are the three most common silent killers of culture, and what you can do about them. 


When a simple mistake is being spotted, it is often easier for the leader to choose to forgive and forget. However, it may be a sign of complacency staring at you, after which standards start to slip and people avoid being accountable. The only way to avoid your team slipping into a “complacency mode” is to maintain high standards in whatever you do – the simplest of tasks provide you the best clues.

Sense of entitlement

When one of your team members starts to demand for special treatment, a sense of entitlement has definitely crept in. Many leaders tend to give in to such requests so as not to demotivate him or worse, lose him as a team member. Nonetheless, you may have already lost him as a team member because his individual pride and gain have overtaken the collective interests of the team. This would be minimised when you proactively keep everyone’s egos in check, emphasise the point that no one is larger than the team, and instill a sense of gratitude within the team. 

Artificial harmony

When everyone in your team seems amicable and harmonious to everyone else an undercurrent of artificial harmony may be brewing. It essentially means that your team is choosing to avoid conflict on the surface and tend to be agreeable with anything raised. It is almost impossible to avoid friction at work, so a surface too calm can spell trouble ahead. This is typically caused by distrust and unwillingness of team members to share openly for fear of retaliation. To work on this silent killer, you as a leader need to be vulnerable to create trusting connections with your team, and to really listen well.