People Who Shape a Culture
When it comes to culture, every person counts. But truthfully, some “count” more than others.
In my experience, the people who have the most impact on culture are the leaders, because the leader of the organization or of the team sets the tone and determines what is appreciated and permitted.
The quote “people join companies and leave managers” speaks to this fact and is so important to keep in mind when hiring or promoting someone into a management role. Often, we promote individuals with strong technical skill (i.e., they can do the work their employees do), forgetting that the ability to model the culture and philosophy as well as demonstrate exemplary leadership skills are actually more important to the people they manage.
A good leader is someone who can communicate effectively whether inspiring people with the vision or the need for change, recognizing and appreciating, or coaching and providing feedback. They also set goals and direction and help employees connect to the purpose while holding those same employees accountable for achieving the expectations. And they aren’t afraid to make a decision when things go wrong. They are a role model for personal development and encourage their employees to do the same. They aren’t afraid to hire smart people and let them shine. Together these qualities and characteristics make a leader who will steward a good culture.
There are also people who have huge impact on culture for the wrong reasons. This person is a toxic individual. The one who doesn’t fit the culture or feels anger or resentment towards the company. These people are infectious, spreading their negativity germs as fast as an air born virus. If not corrected, they can undermine the best efforts of a manager and overload the positivity and contributions of numerous colleagues. That’s why good leaders and good teams won’t tolerate this kind of behaviour and act fast to ensure toxic people either don’t get hired or don’t stay for long.
If you care about culture in your organization, ensure you and your managers serve, model and protect the culture in their actions, communications, style and tone.