Culture is the Only Corporate Defining Factor.
We all appreciate corporate creativity and executives who create revolutionary new products, reimagine how people access goods and services, or come up with new approaches to engage and delight consumers. However, it is our responsibility as business leaders to create and maintain the company culture, which is the catalyst for innovation and organisational achievement. According to David Cummings, Co-founder of Pardot, “Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur. Develop a strong corporate culture first and foremost.” But how is culture the ‘only’ corporate defining factor?
Jeff Housenbold explains that businesses can use the same business concepts, interact with consumers on the same channels, deliver the same or similar goods or services, and charge the same price. The culture they create is what sets truly outstanding leaders and companies apart from ordinary ones. The only corporate defining factor that counts is company culture since it ultimately enables teams to do more together than any single person could. The challenge for us as business leaders is to foster an atmosphere where employees can be their best selves while working. It is our responsibility to establish an environment that encourages individuals to challenge conventional wisdom, innovate, work together, and use data to better serve customers. Our goal is to create a culture that fosters creativity and consistent performance over time.
Housenbold believes corporate culture is based on two things:
Leading through Fear
“Everything comes down to culture and individuals since products come and go. Since disruptive innovation is the norm, you must create a disruptive workplace culture and then build on it over time if you want to produce lasting value. To establish a work environment where employees feel comfortable challenging the status quo, a certain style of leadership is required. In far too many businesses, fear prevails over trust, and employees are more concerned with avoiding controversy than promoting the interests of the customers. This kind of thinking might be a remnant of the management style prevalent during the Industrial Revolution era when managers viewed employees as interchangeable gears and watched assembly lines from elevated platforms to gauge production.
“Information silos” are a feature of fear-based organisational cultures, which also operate in a climate of mistrust and political scheming. There is little opportunity, honesty, enquiry, or empathy in these workplaces. People may remain because they must have the money, but they are not working at their best.”
Leading through Love
The better option is to lead by example and inspire ‘missionaries’ who will spread the word about your company. If you think that most people are decent and want to work hard, your major responsibility as a leader in the company is to give your team members the resources and methods, they require to get the work completed. Additionally, you must communicate the organization’s mission, vision, and values—as well as the behaviours you want them to adopt —to provide employees with a “true north” they can use to navigate.
Transparency is crucial for developing a culture of trust. Knowing that knowledge is power, leaders should push it all the way down to the lowest levels of their organisations, set boundaries and allow their followers to work creatively within them.
This leadership style absolutely requires effective communication. The goal is to create an over-arching culture that supports honest, open, transparent feedback about performance without any sense of judgement or subjectivity. When the culture supports the feedback system, employees can continue to be themselves in each review, as can managers.
Housenbold added, “similar to a constitution, a strong business culture serves as a framework but is also a dynamic living document that changes as necessary. The organisation as a whole is guided by its core principles, which are frequently referred to as values and behaviours, yet the culture will show itself in peculiar local ways. This adaptability develops a culture that lasts over time and changes as the company expands. The only corporate difference that truly matters is a strong culture, which you can secure if you cultivate an environment with these qualities.”
When culture is at its strongest, your company will make achieving goals second nature and as doable as making a cup of tea. Click here if you want to know how to assess your existing culture, or book here for a consultation.