Article Overview:

  • Organizational or corporate culture will manifest and impact your company positively or negatively. The strength of your leadership determines the outcome.
  • Defining a vision and mission are key contributors to building an internal community.
  • Recruiting and keeping the best talent available and providing them with the best tools and support is key to corporate success.
  • Inclusion, communication and commitment from your leadership bolsters your corporate culture against negative forces.

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“A company’s products and services get them in the game, but it’s the corporate culture – the interactions with people as the product or service is being delivered – that keeps customers coming back.” ~Dr. Ken Blanchard

1. Defining Organizational Culture

While meeting with a group of students recently on a college campus, I overheard them using the phrase, “doing it for the culture.” Whenever I hear the word “culture” referenced, my mind immediately goes to the business environment and those values and behaviors that contribute to the unique environment each business has. But as I listened to these students and started to unpack their conversation more, I realized they were referring to the hip hop/popular culture and some intentional actions they wanted to take to enhance their social environment.

As I reflected, I realized that there are so many business principles we can find just by observing the hip hop culture. Take for instance, the movie New Jack City, which is one of my favorite movies from the 90s. While I do not personally agree with the lifestyle portrayed in the movie, I am certain that there is value in some of the business practices they used.  

As an ISO-certified business leader, for example, I applaud the quality control and security measures  they took to protect their organization. Nino Brown’s level of marketing and business strategy were also noteworthy; but that’s a topic for another time.

2. The Importance of Great Leadership

When I think about how “doing it for the culture” could translate in the corporate environment, I immediately return to my doctoral training and Dr. Ken Blanchard’s studies on organizational leadership. Throughout his various publications, Dr. Blanchard repeatedly emphasizes how creating a great organizational culture starts with great leadership. According to Dr. Blanchard, the key to creating a great culture is to build a sense of community using strategic vision and direction.  

As CEO of a multi-million dollar company, I have found that creating a compelling mission and vision leads to a very holistic environment where people feel valued and part of something larger than themselves.  Therefore, I begin my leadership strategy with a very personal, forward-thinking statement of purpose, or vision statement. The corporate vision gives my company direction and lets the entire team know how we plan to achieve our goals.

3. Invest in Talent

I contribute to my company’s culture by intentionally investing in staff with talent and ideas that align with our corporate mission. I like to use the analogy of a special dinner where, as CEO, I may bring the main dish to the table, which is the corporate vision and mission. However, the magic happens when those around me also bring their ‘fixings’ or strengths to the meal.

The combination of our various strengths and talents makes for a more flavorful and complete meal; which means success for us as a whole.

I ensure cohesiveness and cultural fit within my organization by conducting a personality assessment during the recruitment phase and screening out anyone who may not connect with the corporate vision.  Be willing to pay for the best talent you can find because, in the end, their strengths become your strengths. Investing in talent requires a mature perspective, which challenges leaders to understand and respect that we do not hold all the answers and that the prosperity of the business hinges on our shared successes.

“Be willing to pay for the best talent you can find because, in the end, their strengths become your strengths.”  ~ Dr. Angela Reddix

Double down on your talent investment by building a strong human resource team that is equipped with the necessary tools to provide comprehensive support to all staff. Charge the human resource team with sharing and fortifying the goals and vision throughout the organization.

A key to empowering HR is providing them with resources and clear written processes to combat any negativity that arises.  Negativity and distrust fester and tear down culture from within, confront them and stamp them out. Finally, as you invest in talent build up your associates (staff) so that they see themselves as partners in your company’s journey and not merely resources.

4. Successful Leaders Commit and Protect

In a way, I believe good leaders must become champions and defenders of the culture and find strategic ways to evangelize and promote the vision at all times. We do this by constantly staying in connection mode; connecting with our teams on a daily basis and ensuring that we resolve any conflicts and issues early on. Make sure your leadership team is prepared to protect the corporate reputation against faceless criticism that may appear by way of the rumor mill, social media, negative publicity, and so on.

Conclusion

In today’s “Me First” society, “doing it for the culture” means giving it your all to protect and defend the principles and ideals you hold dear.  While it is not always easy or convenient to do so, leaders must find creative ways to define and communicate a culture that is inclusive, strategic, and purposeful. Protect your company’s legacy by investing your time, treasures, and talent in promoting a positive culture, and the rewards will be limitless.

How to build a strong organizational culture” is part of a series on Organizational Culture & Leadership.

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Additional Resources:

HubSpot – What Organizational Culture Is & Why It Matters

VirginPulse – What is Corporate Culture?

Society for Human Resource Management – Understanding and Developing Organizational Culture