Personally, I think I got fully immersed into leadership when I decided to go out on my own in business. I must admit the idea of growing the business to a multi-national employing other people wasn’t there from day one. It was the idea that I could apply myself and later teamed with like minded people and 7 years later here we are. As we have gathered moss over the years, and our values and purpose got clearer through meetings and deliberate thought, I have become aware of the burden of leading people.
“If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff will just take care of itself
– Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com
When I stumbled on this quote it made sense to me. I have had the privilege of interviewing people to hire and the displeasure of having the talk before we released someone that didn’t fit the team. In all this I have learnt that one actually needs the same skill-set for both hiring and Firing.
I have seen a pattern emerge. As I stand at the gate to let in or let out people, it has been based on how they fitted in the company culture.
Here are some interesting thoughts on culture:
Tony Hsieh knows a thing or two about business. He graduated from Harvard, sold his first business to Microsoft and started the internet powerhouse, Zappos all before age 40.
Most business owners and managers would likely agree with Tony – a good culture is critical to the success of a business. However, recognizing the importance of a good culture is very different from actually working on your company culture.
Most business leaders don’t work on their company’s culture because they don’t know where to start. It is much easier to work on tangible, easy to understand problems, but working on the company culture will help you eliminate future problems and position your company for growth.
Culture is Important, But Not Urgent
Unfortunately, for most of us, developing a good culture is one of those “important, but not urgent” activities that never gets works on. Instead, we get lost in a sea of urgent activities like customer issues, hiring, firing, vendor problems, cash flow gaps and new business development opportunities. After all, these issues must be dealt with now or there will be no business, so the culture won’t matter. Besides after we close these new deals, we will have plenty of money and time — then we will spend our days philosophizing about the perfect culture, but for now there is no time.
You Get a Culture No Matter What
Your company develops a culture, whether you actively influence it or not. The culture will grow based on the inputs it receives. If you are not actively steering the company toward the culture you want, then you will get a culture you don’t want. Your company’s culture is like your waistline or credit card spending. When you don’t pay attention, it only goes in the wrong direction.
Think of your culture as your garden. You plant and nurture the plants you want and you weed out the plants you don’t want. As time goes on, you may need to prune back a good cultural trait that was growing too big or in the wrong direction. If you don’t work on your garden, it will grow in unpredictable, crazy and unproductive ways – the same is true of your company culture.
Tony Hsieh is Right!
Tony suggests that if you get the culture right, the rest of the stuff will take care of itself. When you have the right culture, the customer issues, employee hassles, and vendor problems go away. Your company’s culture must become a priority not for some fluffy social good or new age value. You should make your company culture a priority because it will help you grow your business. In my experience, companies that actively work on their culture also have happier owners, employees and customers.
So What is The Right Culture?
Every company will develop its own culture. The industry, founders, leaders, employees and a host of other issues will all impact your company’s culture.
There is no right answer, however some desirable cultural attributes are listed below:
This will work for FAMILIES, BUSINESSES, CHURCHES and even NATIONS!
Let’s Go lead!