While there are some fundamentals of running a company with a good team culture (treating people well, paying them well), there is no one recipe for a culture in terms of the values that drive it. Meghan Lynch, CEO of Six-Point, and Ruth Lund, President of the Legacy Center, ask Robert Glazer, bestselling author of Elevate, to discuss some valuable cultural leadership lessons about what enables teams to survive and thrive under pressure.
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A strong culture is truly all about alignment, Glazer says. And by this, he means complete alignment between a company’s mission/vision (what it believes), what its messages are to its employees and customers (what it says), and the behaviors of its employees and leaders (what it does).
In cultural leadership, there should be alignment between what companies think, say and do, and customers should see and feel this.
This consistency comes from an individual and cultural leadership aspect of self-awareness that can answer the question: “Who are you and what do you want?”
The example Robert provides is one of a former college athlete, super competitive CEO. He argues that they should lead with this authenticity and be clear that their organization is about winning, high growth, and rewarding individual performance. The way that this CEO could create a toxic culture would be to fight that and create messages about “teamwork and collaboration” because they think that is what people want to hear, when that is not really what they value.
Glazer draws the parallel between business cultures and colleges. There are 100 great colleges that if you took your child to, they would reject as “too big” or “too city” or for any number of other reasons. It doesn’t mean that college isn’t great. It just means that it is not the right fit for that person. In that world, you don’t see a large university in a downtown setting pretending it is a small liberal arts college. They own their identity.
Ruth points out that in order to build this authenticity, leaders must be very clear about who they are and what drives them. This way, the leaders are set up for success to be able to walk out of the door and be a living example of the culture within the organization and truly lead to it for others.