The Mindful Leadership Blog

Just In! You ARE the Culture!

May 3rd, 2018

What’s hot?

There is a financial link between corporate culture and company performance.








So what?

Corporate culture – shared assumptions, values and beliefs that influence how people behave, dress, act and perform in their jobs – can create additional market value for a firm according to a University of Kansas School of Business study*.  The results suggest that satisfied employees are a competitive advantage.

What to do?

  1. Promote transparency and ownership. When things go wrong, own up!  Be straight with your team. To hide the “bad news” is an insult to people’s intellectual and emotional intelligence.  Not only can they handle the bad news, they want to be part of the solution.  When employees are kept in the dark and unable to contribute to making things better, it promotes a culture of helplessness.
  1. Seek feedback. Give your team members opportunities to assess the culture.  People are more likely to comment on “the environment” than they are to rate an individual supervisor.  Ask questions such as the following.
    1. What aspects of our work environment enable you to excel?
    2. Which do not?
    3. What do you think should be done about them?
    4. What, in your mind, are the three most valued behaviors here? In what ways do they impact performance and/or satisfaction?
    5. What more could we (our team) do to create a work environment that enables people to perform at their peak and feel great about the work that they do?

(Two important notes: 1. Keep your questions to a maximum of 7 – to ensure that you get the most information while taking the least amount of time. 2. Summarize the results, share the summary and ask your team to recommend the one or two most significant actions that can be taken to improve the culture.)

  1. Don’t tolerate the “brilliant A-Holes”. When you tolerate unacceptable behavior – even if the individual is a Mensa genius – you run the risk of a “bad” culture, employee turnover and lost profits.

You ARE the culture.  The main reason people leave a job is “bad bosses”.   You cannot control the entire organization.  However, you can model leadership excellence by paying attention to the culture in your work unit – and, when necessary, speaking truth to power in cases where changes need to be instituted by those above you in the hierarchy.

*Felix Meschke, Jim GuthrieMinjie Huang and Pingshu Li, University of Kansas School of Business analysis of more than 100,000 surveys from between 2008 and 2012.

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