Your company culture breeds attitudes and behaviours that permeate the entire organisation. It expresses itself through how we prioritise, work, communicate, cooperate, and, not least, how we make and follow through with decisions.
All corporations have (at least one) culture. Culture can be altered and developed. If you succeed in establishing a company culture that underpins overarching strategies and goals, you have an excellent opportunity to develop a competitive advantage simultaneously. Contrary to, let's say, technology, culture can be developed into something unique, that is impossible to copy.
Who Develops Company Culture – And How?
As in all domains connected to leadership, culture starts at the top. However, complaining about lousy culture and believing that cultural changes can happen by giving orders and making decisions is futile. As a consultant, I stagger when I hear leaders make statements like, “Our company culture is bad. Our employees should know that they have to change.”
There is only one recipe for success: The top management must walk the talk. I am of course referring to the CEO, but also to the board and dominating owners, in cases where they are actively involved in the day to day operations.
The Actions of the CEO and The Board Show The Company’s True Values
Once the board and the CEO acknowledge their complete ownership and commitment to the company culture, the chances are high that you will be able to develop a culture that supports business goals. You can then start having meaningful discussions about what kind of overarching culture you want to build, and what components help create that culture.
You can then discuss the most critical factors for developing culture: The focus of the company (internally or externally), what should be rewarded/punished, how to distribute the resources, who should be recruited/promoted, crisis management and communication. The culture is shaped by how the company and the management perform in each of these areas.
The actions of the board and the CEO has a substantial impact on company culture. It shows which values that really count. You cannot order culture like you order a steak. It is shaped and formed by leaders who live it and breathe it consciously and consistently over time.