Culture Matters for Your Leadership Success!

Business Edge-smart growth strategies-marciaby Marcia Zidle, Columnist & Featured Contributor

[su_dropcap style=”flat”]I[/su_dropcap]MAGINE THAT you’ve been offered two different positions and you have to decide which one you want. Or perhaps you’re already in a good job, but something that seems to be a better opportunity comes up in another department, division or company.

This was the situation with a financial services client. She could stay in her present position, relocate to another business unit or take an overseas assignment with an international business.

Having Options Is Great!

What a wonderful confidence booster! However, there’s also a lot of pressure trying to decide which option is best.

One of the most important factors, according to a Harvard Business Review blog is that “culture matters”. It’s not uncommon for people to enter a company or business unit without understanding the culture and come away disappointed. Some places will excite you. They’ll stimulate your success and growth. Others will be stressful. They may lead you to quit before you’ve accomplished much.

When considering a new position or new company be sure to investigate the culture – how they operate before making the leap. So try to discover before, during and after the interviews:

  • What do they say is important (customer service, teamwork, innovation, etc.) and do they walk the talk?
  • What’s more critical- getting in on time or getting the work done no matter how long it takes?
  • Are decisions made unilaterally, by whoever shouts the loudest or by consensus?
  • What behaviors are rewarded and which ones may get you in the dog house?
  • Do they value teamwork over the lone ranger or the other way around?
  • What groups or functions or people have the most clout?

How To Discover This?

Do your due diligence by networking, social media and talking to people who can give you insight into the workings of the organization – some in the company, some who have left the company and Cultureeven competitors and vendors. It’s important to speak with folks who aren’t involved in the recruiting and hiring process within the company.

As an external coach, it’s very important for me to have an accurate picture of the situation I’m walking into. Here are two examples of how I developed insight into the business culture.

In one company I built a relationship with a friendly receptionist whom I got to know while waiting to go into meetings. We traded vacation plans and other experiences. I got a very good sense of what the company was about and what were some of the key issues.

At another, it was with a shift foreman who gave me a tour of several facilities at the plant. I learned things that headquarters was not aware of in most companies …that the front line knows quite a bit about what’s going well and what’s not.

Decision Time 

Once you have some understanding of how the potential employer operates, you’ll need to consider how well that matches your goals, your values, your style and other things that are important to you. Realize that you won’t have a complete picture but it’s better to have some knowledge than to go into a new situation blind.

Yes it takes time to dig in and find these contacts and to get the good, bad and ugly information out on the table. However, by accepting a position that is not a good fit and only realizing it four to six months later, is time and opportunity lost for you and the company.

Smart Moves Tip

Many times one gets caught up in the title and the pay that the position brings and how that looks on a resume. The down fall is you may lose sight of your personal and professional goals as well as what brings you leadership satisfaction. Though compensation, benefits, titles are important and should be weighed out in the decision process, culture has to be as important for long term success.

Have you been in a situation where you had the opportunity to choose among different career options?  Did you choose wisely? What advice would you give to others?

My Motto Is:
“If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Therefore, MOVE outside of your comfort zone; that’s where the MAGIC happens.” To bring that magic to your leadership and business, subscribe to Marcia’s monthly Execubrief: “Business Edge – Smart Growth Strategies” with a insights, inspiration and intelligence on how to build great businesses that matter – those that do well and do good.

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Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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  1. Excellent advice!

    You only live once, and the ‘right’ culture fit does definitely matter for you to have an enjoyable working life.

    If you get it right, your time working for that company will be a pleasure, and you are getting paid for it!