Leadership Rule Number 1 – You Are The Company Culture

“Only one thing is universal about company culture: You can’t delegate it. It’s the responsibility of the CEO.”

That’s according to Paul Speigleman, the former CEO of BerylHealth.

What is Company Culture?

Some see it as the extent to which employees are engaged in their work. Others view it as how well the company has defined–and employees live according to–core values. Yet others describe it as the feeling you get when you walk through the front door and into the lobby. Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things. Either way, all three definitions (and any others) are a direct reflection of the organization and its leadership.

Leadership Is About Authenticity

Paul goes on to say, “I originally thought that shifting culture-building responsibility to existing employees at BerylHealth, which I founded, would get those programs done. But I soon realized that those employees needed ongoing cultural direction from me and I had to participate in the culture we were creating, not simply behave as a bystander.”

In other words, if you don’t commit to and communicate regularly about your culture initiatives and implement traditions yourself, your employees will think you are insincere at least and hypocritical at most. In either case, your credibility as a leader goes way down.

To that end, he states that he has dressed up in crazy outfits, made funny videos, attended community service events, espoused the importance of core values, and written thousands of personal notecards to recognize milestones in the lives of my employees.

This isn’t to say that employees can’t lead and execute on your culture programs and initiatives. However, you, as the leader, have to set the vision and give them permission to use their creativity to do the culture-building things they are passionate about.

Smart Moves Tip:

As a leader, you can and should delegate most of your company’s day-to-day operational work to those who have the talent to do it. But you can’t abstain from your responsibility to create the culture that drives your company’s potential success. Remember, as the leader, your company culture is only as valuable as your personal role in it. Therefore make sure you create and promote a culture of integrity.

Readers, what do you or your leaders do to promote your company culture?


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. I agree that leaders can be a source of an organization’s culture. But the challenge I see that many leaders struggle with is having their followers emulate their behaviors and ideals. Culture can’t spread if this emulation and adoption doesn’t happen. How the leader talks and presents themselves to individuals and groups is very key. You cannot over-hype the benefit of executive presence.

    My axioms for leadership include:
    1. Followers like their leader because they see themselves in their leader.
    2. Followers understand their leader and can predict how the leader will react in different situations and circumstances.
    3. Followers emulate what they consider the best aspects of their leader.

    I use these as the foundation for leadership development and culture change.