I would argue that the best leaders respect the power of culture. They do their work understanding that culture is the invisible force influencing motivation, performance and metrics impacts. When the culture is right, so is strategy and growth of the organization, teams and individuals.
In the simplest terms, culture is how people feel. How people feel at work determines their levels of engagement, learning, resilience, creativity and loyalty. Culture exerts more intrinsic, meaningful and sustainable influence than extrinsic motivators like bonuses, compensation, benefits and contests.
Specifically, culture is how free, connected and valued people feel. Unless teams have structures that support these feelings, they don't automatically happen. Feelings of freedom, connection and value need to be designed into how work happens and how people interact everyday. Everything leaders do influences these feelings in one direction or another. Peers have even more influence over the quality of culture.