Are you known in your marketplace as a company with a great culture? A living culture can be a major differentiator setting your company apart from others competing on similar dimensions for the same customers. The most remarkable companies have cultures that are alive, create a WOW customer experience, and retain those hard to find clients.
Your culture should be evident in your behavior as a CEO, but also incorporated into your messaging, imaging, employee behavior, and brand promise. Are your actions and behaviors consistent with your core values and core purpose? It should permeate everything you do and stand for as a company. Ask yourself how your stakeholders (customers, competitors, employees, leadership, etc.) would describe your company’s culture.
Are you able to say that everyone in your company understands what you mean by the term “culture”?
Are they completely aligned with it?
Do you communicate it during your recruiting, interviewing, hiring, on-boarding and training of all employees?
Is it well known and alive throughout your organization?
Is your culture healthy?
Are you using your culture as a competitive weapon, a strategic differentiator?
Is it designed to deliver a WOW customer experience?
Does it define your company as remarkable?
Leadership Creates Culture
If you are the CEO, your job is to articulate WHY your company exists, WHAT it stands for, believes in and values, and WHERE it is headed. You, as CEO, must consistently and regularly communicate these foundational blocks to the rest of the company. From this strong foundation, different systems necessary for growth, such as People and Cultural Systems, Strategy Execution Systems, along with systems to help you make money and generate CASH can be refined to great advantage.
Members of the senior leadership team (SLT) need to be part of these foundational activities, including development of the core values and strategic direction the company. They will be the ones to deploy it out through the ranks of the company, and ultimately to the customer. If you are a new member of the leadership team, your alignment with the foundational aspects of the organization will enable you to start your relationship with the company and to begin to gain the trust of your people.
What is Authentic Leadership?
Authentic leaders within the organization communicate with transparency, provide clarity around the direction taken, and what is expected of each person in the process of accomplishing stated goals. The authentic leader will show what they do and how they do it by consistently demonstrating with words and actions their commitment to the core values and core purpose of the company. This will lead the direction and quality of the organization’s culture. Culture is descending, and starts at the top with authentic leadership. Done well, this can truly be a differentiator amongst competitors.
Good leaders understand that an inspirational vision, supported by enduring core values, with goals that are in alignment with the current mission are all critical to a successful organization.
Purpose is Corporate DNA
Good leaders understand WHY they do what they do and are clear about their purpose. Can you articulate your WHY? Can you go back in time and discover the real reason your company was founded in the first place? Is it still relevant? Purpose is always greater than simply generating revenue or profits. It's the difference you are making in the world. My colleague, and fellow coach, Mark Green says that “if your purpose statement doesn’t give you goosebumps, you still have work to do”.
If you are a leader but not the founder:
Can you communicate to others the purpose of the enterprise, the WHY, and the reason that you are spending most of your time there?
Are you constantly demonstrating the core purpose and core values through your actions?
Are you aware of those who do communicate and demonstrate these ‘cores’ in your company?
Are you recognizing and rewarding them for this behavior in some way? These people are your company ambassadors, and you need to know who they are.
In the age of social media where many folks are seeking ‘likes’ and ‘followers’, the best way to stand out is to be truly authentic. Your company will attract more people who are aligned with your WHY. Your company will also attract and keep more loyal customers who are also aligned with your purpose. By choosing true authenticity, you will gain the confidence of your SLT, and, ultimately your employees and customers.. You will have much greater personal fulfillment professionally and in life.