Culture is the total sum of the values, customs, traditions, and meanings that make a company unique. It is defined as being the backbone, or foundation for any organization’s growth or forward strategy.
Growing up, I quickly learned that my family name carried a lot of weight. Anytime someone found out I was my father’s son, I became aware of what was expected of me. I was raised in a house that prioritized things like generosity, hosting friends, and lifelong relationships. As I went off to university, and eventually established my place in the corporate world – the culture I grew up in was so immersed in me, that I find myself embodying the same values my family was known for when I was growing up. Culture, when established early – can define not only who you are, but how you act.
Here are a few practical ways that culture can help your business and leadership:
1. Culture is caught, not taught
Every company generally has their cultural ideas and values etched on plaques, or written on letterhead – but rarely do written values just translate into a great corporate culture. People need to see culture lived out – they need to catch the vision of the culture for themselves.
2. Culture of Encouragement
While there are many values that should be espoused at a corporate level, encouragement ranks first in my books. Imagine an atmosphere where employees and clients walk in to work excited, knowing that their workplace is one that encourages thought, ideas, and values who they are. An emphasis on encouragement, means a healthy workplace.
3. Know Your Limitations
One of the best things I realized early in my career, was who I was – and who I wasn’t. The quicker I can come to terms with the things I am not good at, the sooner I can focus on the aspects and values that I am good at, that I want to espouse. The sooner we turn the things we are good at into our focus, the faster our values get translated, top-down.
Culture starts at the top, but can’t be just a written code. Set your culture, before someone else does.