Culture means different things to different people. It can be listening to a symphony orchestra, looking at art, watching films (especially the non-Hollywood variety), or listening to street performers play beautiful music on a warm summer night in Aix-en-Provence. Whatever culture you prefer, the company you lead or work for has its own very specific culture.
Company culture first comes about by company founders. Over time this culture can shift as owners and leaders change. As a company grows different parts of the company can start to develop different cultures.
To lead individuals and companies to top performance, culture has to be actively defined, communicated, and developed. This is not something you want to leave to chance.
For example, I recently wrote about Seeking Customer Feedback. Wanting, seeking, and acting on customer feedback is not a natural act for many people. It takes courage, persistence, and ownership of things that inevitably will go wrong. If you seek out customer feedback, good and bad, acknowledging your part when things do not go right, customers will forgive you just about anything. Building a culture that craves this sort of feedback and response has to start with great leadership.
A few ideas on how you can lead your company culture:
- Do you seek feedback on your own performance from employees, customers, and partners?
- How do you respond to feedback, especially when it is negative?
- Do you tell people what to do or do you show them what is possible and then let them figure out how to get there?
- Are you out of your office daily walking among your employees, listening to them, and encouraging them?
- When was the last time you talked with a customer?
Honestly answering these questions can give you insight into the corporate culture you are building. What culture do you want to create?