Solving Your Corporate Culture Problems Starts at the Top

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On May 21, 2017

There are tons of books and articles out there that emphasize the importance of having a healthy corporate culture (By the way, one of my favorites is Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work by Paul Marciano). Perhaps one reason there are so many books on the topic is that the problem is so widespread.

Given the robust sales of books on this topic, it’s also obvious that a lot of business leaders are trying to solve corporate culture problems. And while I’m a firm believer in voracious reading for improving your skills, it’s become clear to me that there is somewhere else leaders should look if they really want to create a better culture: in the mirror.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks this way. A recent LA Times article came to the same conclusion with regard to a couple of very well-known companies who made headlines recently for all the wrong reasons.

The airline and banking industries may seem to be about as different as chalk and cheese, but United Airlines and Wells Fargo have been shown to share a common bond: toxic corporate cultures that can be blamed on the men at the top, their chief executives. (Source: www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-toxic-united-wells-20170411-story.html) 

If you (or your employees) aren’t happy with your corporate culture, you really need to take a hard look at the way you treat your employees. If you really want to be a place that comes up with creative new ideas for solving problems, take a look at how you react to those kinds of suggestions yourself. Do you welcome them or do you brush off as impractical or unproven?

Don’t get me wrong: Not every new idea is a good one. But do employees feel empowered to try new things—and even to fail occasionally without recrimination?

I also understand that as a leader you feel responsibility for the company’s well-being. But has that sense of responsibility gotten to the point where you are afraid to trust anyone but yourself to make the right decisions or to look for new solutions?

Maybe you built your company from nothing and brought it to where it is today. But if you really want to transform your company and take it to the next level, you’re going to need help. Are you creating an atmosphere that promotes that, or are you a “My way or the highway” kind of leader?

If you want to change your corporate culture in order to transform your business, you need to start with yourself. Do you embody the characteristics you want to see in your company? Sometimes it’s hard to take a good, honest look at ourselves in order to evaluate the changes we need to make. That’s where an executive leadership coach can really help. I can help you hold up the mirror and figure out what steps to take if you don’t like the image you see.