This blog post is one in a series of eight articles that explore the most important characteristics of a strong leader. These articles are linked to a Prezi visual presentation, which you can view here.
Create a Strong Business Culture
Every organization has its own business culture - but whether or not it is the right culture is directly related to how intentionally the culture was developed.
If you haven't set out to build a specific culture for your company, then the culture is likely to mirror the strongest personalities in the group or to be defined by the subgroups and their relationships with one another.
A business' culture defines how it operates on the inside, and it has a direct relationship to how the company is perceived on the outside. A truly intentional business culture will be strongly influenced by your value proposition.
How Value Proposition Affects Business Culture
If you're not familiar with the concepts of Value Proposition, the short explanation is this: If you have a company that is extremely focused on customer service and relationships, then a collaborative culture will serve you best. If you have a company that always tries to be on the cutting edge of product development or innovative services, then a competitive culture may be what you need. And if you have a company that is competing on price and speed, then a more controlling culture will help keep those crucial pennies from flying out the window (read more on this topic here).
Culture Defines Relationships and Behavior
Strong leaders are integral to building healthy business behavior. But even with a small organization of less than 10 people, micromanaging relationships is unrealistic (and intrusive!). The one way you can influence the overall behavior of your organization is to define a culture and cultural norms. Then you can speak to, model, and promote those norms as part of your daily business leadership.
Operate from a Principle Base
One of the most compelling ways to define your business culture is to develop a set of principles by which you want your company to operate. Here are the principles we live by at Hill Management Group (StrategyWerx, SupportWerx, and MentorWerx):
- Accountability; to ourselves, each other, our customers, and our vendors.
- Honesty and Integrity in everything we do.
- To work individually and with/for one another to maintain work/life balance.
- To have fun and find joy in one another and in our work.
- To treat everyone with dignity and respect.
- To seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- To remain in constant pursuit of personal, intellectual, and creative growth.
- To understand what is most important and prioritize accordingly.
- To embrace and be open about our mistakes so everyone can learn from them.
This is a terrific list for us, but it might not be the right list for you. The point is, you should spend some time thinking about what type of culture and principles will best serve you, then define them. Once defined, they can become part of your working culture.
Be the Role Model
One of the tough things about putting a defined culture or set of principles in place is that you not only have to abide by them, you must become the model for them. When you fall short of your own cultural goals (as we inevitably all will at some time), you must be openly accountable and make an example of yourself as a person who tries to do better. If you don't take a visible, accountable leadership role in this regard, then any talk you have about culture will just be talk.
Creating a strong business culture is one of the most difficult and rewarding things any leader can do. But the payoff is phenomenal - personally, professionally, and financially.
(c) Andrea Hill, 2013