Is Your Company Culture By Design Or By Default?

company culture


Are You Creating Your Company Culture?

One of the most slippery and elusive concepts to articulate and define in your business is its company culture.

Every company has one. It is the prevailing collective mindset and attitude of the staff. It is a reflection of the leadership. It colors and influences every aspect of the business.

And it exists by default, or by design.

In the words of Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. former CEO at IBM,

“The thing I have learned at IBM is that culture is everything.”

That may seem a bit of an overstatement, an attempt at corporate hyperbole in order to underscore the importance of company culture. I believe he was right on the mark. In a business, culture is everything.

So what is a business owner to do? For one, culture can be impacted, influenced and improved. And that task falls to the leader and, consequently, to the leadership team. A “bottom up” shift in a company’s culture is unlikely and usually undesirable. It is the domain and the duty, if you will, of the leader in the business to shape and foster the culture of that business.

“The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture.”

– Edgar Schein, professor MIT Sloan School of Management

Robert Nardelli failed in his role as CEO of The Home Depot because he dismissed and disrespected the long-established and positive culture that existed upon his arrival. It was the culture and the prevailing conceptions about who they were and what their mission was, that had made The Home Depot the giant that it had become.

No corporate strategy could reverse the damage done to a culture that was reduced to dispirited and resentful employees, fearful of losing their jobs.

As a leader it is incumbent upon you to take a careful measure of your company’s culture. It is your challenge to breathe fresh life into it, if necessary, and to invigorate it with a fresh sense of common purpose and the inspiration of a compelling vision.

Your company’s culture is your job.

Get to know your culture.