Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Many of you are aware that I often write about the importance of creating and maintaining a values based and strong corporate culture. In my opinion, it goes hand in hand with the importance of strong leadership. In fact, it is one of the longest lasting, most pervasive and highest return initiatives that an outstanding leader can accomplish for their organization.

Two Harvard Business School professors wrote a book entitled The Ownership Quotient on the subject. In the book, they discuss the top 10 lessons of those that create and nurture the best cultures. Here are the 10 lessons (as adapted from an HBR article):
1) Leaders must state the organizations purpose, values and vision and set the example by living the values through their behavior, the measures the set and monitor and each of their actions.
2) The values have to have "teeth" in them so that there are consequences if you do not adhere to the values.
3) The culture is so strong that it is noticeable and commented upon by employees in expressions such as " that would not be allowed in the culture" etc. When the informal comments begin to mock the culture take warning that you are not living the values.
4) Organizations with good and strong cultures have effective succession processes as the culture enables the development of leaders and will ease the transition.
5) The values of the organization are also used to select the "right" customers as well as the "right" employees. The values are so strong that the company will not violate their values to generate revenue.
6) The result is "the best serving the best".
7) Organizations with values based and strong cultures enjoy outstanding employee and customer loyalty.
8) Organizations with good and strong cultures enjoy labor cost advantages. This advantage is due to many reasons but one major reason is that employees know what is expected of them and work well as teams for a common good.
9) One of the risks to be managed with a strong culture is creating a cult that thinks they have all the answers. A good culture is one that is not only strong but adaptive and creates an open minded atmosphere.
10) Nurturing and maintaining a good and strong culture starts at the top with leaders who remember who they are there to serve (not the other way around) and hold themselves to the same values, not above them.

I will repeat my favorite definition of corporate values and culture which is how your employees act and the decisions they make when no one is watching. How does your organization measure up on this list of the top ten lessons learned?
Till Next Time,

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