If You Don’t Get Culture Right, Nothing Else Matters

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If You Don’t Get Culture Right, Nothing Else Matters”

That was said by John Taft, CEO of RBC Wealth Management, in a recent Smart Brief Interview on the importance of culture. He continued:

Culture is everything when it comes to responsible, long-term business success… A leader’s job is to discover, communicate and reinforce culture.”

While leaders regularly pore over financial, operations, marketing and sales reports, they generally pay less attention analyzing their organization’s culture. But they should!

Because as Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric says, “Culture Drives Results.”

What Is Culture? It’s Like an Iceberg!

IcebergWe know from the Titanic that only the top of the iceberg was visible; the larger portion was underneath the water and invisible yet had great impact – it brought the Titanic down!

So, the visible aspects of culture (the 10%) are what we see on the surface: For example, the company logo, symbols, how space is used, the way people dress or the way they talk.

The not so visible, elements of culture (the 90%) are the values (what’s important, what we care about) and the norms (the ways people are expected to act). They impact the organization in three things:

  1. Establishes an identity – people feel connected and committed.
  2. Aligns everyone’s behavior so that they’re rowing in the same direction.
  3. Provides the basis for making the right decisions and taking the right actions.

Essentially, it is what’s below the water line that drives the organization to success or failure.

Why Is Culture Important?

In a Deloitte Consulting study, 98% of executives and 88% of employees believe workplace culture is important to business success. Companies, with a strong culture, outperform companies with weak cultures because:

  • Their reputation as a great place to work will attract and retains great talent.
  • People who have a shared purpose work better together and achieve more.
  • Greater customer satisfaction will lead to better retention and referrals.

What’s Your Culture?

[bctt tweet=”Culture is not putting nice sounding words on a piece of paper and posting it on the walls. ” username=”bizmastersglobal”]

Or trying to imitate or copy another company’s culture. Much of culture is played out in the day-to-day interactions between employees and their managers and between customers with you and your staff.  It gets built one day at time, one interaction after interaction.

To Find Out Get Feedback:

At your next staff, team or board meeting ask:

  • If you had to describe what it’s like to work here, what would you tell someone?
  • If you could change one thing to make your job easier, what would it be?
  • What kind of a person succeeds here?  Fails here?

Also, talk with your customers and suppliers and find out:

  • What is it like to do business with us? Are we easy or difficult to work with?
  • If you could change one thing to have a better experience, what would it be?
  • Do we exceed, meet or disappoint your expectations? How can we improve?

Were there surprises? Are there areas that you need to work on? What are some changes you will make to create a different experience for both your employees and customers?

[su_box title=”SMART MOVES TIP” style=”glass” box_color=”#2f598a”]Much of culture is played out in the day-to-day interactions between employees and their managers and between customers with your staff. Leaders who want to get results, need must realize is that their actions –what they do or don’t do­ influences the perception of the company’s culture both inside and outside the company Such interactions shape beliefs about “how we do things around here.” These beliefs, in turn, drive people’s actions, which collectively produce results.[/su_box]
What’s the culture of your company or organization? How do your leaders lead? Is everyone aware of “how we do things around here?” I would like to hear your thoughts about the role culture plays in organizations.

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 insights, inspiration and intelligence on how to build great businesses that matter- those that do well and do good.

Did You Know That a New Kind of SMARTS is Needed?

75% of leaders are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle people problems, unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust. – Center for Creative Leadership. Do you want to boost your emotional and social intelligence and be a more effective leader? Let me help you do it!


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. Wonderful points about organizational culture, Marcia. :) I’ve also observed that too often the decision maker(s)/ leader(s) are on board for change in the culture until they realize that the change begins and continues with them, personally and professionally.

    • Devaney,

      Your comment about change begins and continues with the leader reminded me of this quote from I believe an unknown Monk.

      I Wanted To Change The World

      When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family.

      Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.