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Sh*tty Company Culture? Fire The CEO

August 23, 2023

Building and Sustaining Company Culture: Leadership’s Role

A company culture starts at the top. I’ve been in companies with phenomenal cultures where I bled the company red and I’ve worked at companies where the culture made me want to vomit.

I’ve been personally successful in developing cultures. I’ve built a few cultures where we were the envy of the organization. To this day we still talk about “the good old days at . . . ” I’ve also made some mistakes and failed at building cultures.

I am passionate about company culture and understand what it takes to build them.


How to Build a Strong Company Culture

It’s simple: LEADERSHIP

Culture starts at the top. I’ve worked with leaders who felt creating and managing a culture was not their job, but the employees. Needless to say none of these leaders are still in their positions — and they shouldn’t be.

If companies with strong cultures outperform companies with shitty cultures then it seems to reason a good culture is key.

Culture Starts at the Top

It starts with the CEO. He or she owns the development and reinforcement of the company culture. If they don’t have the leadership to implement and create a positive company culture, they are not fit for the job. Unfortunately, few board of directors hire, fire, have metrics, or implement processes to measure a CEO on their ability to create a winning culture.

I am aware of only one instance where culture was a key metric measured by the board; where the CEO was held accountable for the environment he created for customers and the employees.

In a business world that increasingly looks like the professional sports, with winners and losers changing places every day, culture is increasingly becoming a critical element to winning.

The company culture at Google and Apple are great examples of where culture is at the heart of success.

Culture is Part of the CEO’s Job

A CEO, like a coach, is responsible for creating a winning environment. For me it’s not enough to deliver the numbers by themselves. Numbers with a shitty culture are a house of cards. As soon things get difficult or the river changes direction, the company will be unable to respond. The success of the organization is directly linked to the efforts invested in building company culture.

A CEO’s job is to drive growth and improve shareholder value. I submit this can not be done over the long haul with a shitty culture.

Culture is too important to the success of companies. Companies with good cultures make better products, have happier employees, and create better shareholder value.

I think more boards should add a culture component to their key metrics and perform consistent company culture assessments. I think they should add “company culture development and execution” as part of the hiring process. I think they should create metrics to measure culture. I think they should hold the CEO and the executive team accountable for the culture and in the end if a CEO can’t oversee a good culture. The board should fire them . . . I would.

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