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Culture Is Your Job

by Jesse Lahey on August 14, 2019


“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” ~ Attributed to the late Peter Drucker; popularized in 2006 by Mark Fields, former CEO of Ford

A mid-level professional gave a presentation to a group of vice-presidents of the company where he works. He sprinkled in some of his trademark humor, which usually gets a positive response from his audiences and helps them connect with the real human behind his subject-matter expertise. But this time, the response was … crickets. No one even cracked a smile.

Later, one of the VPs pulled him aside to provide feedback. “Your presentation was full of great insights and information. But I don’t think the humor was necessary. Stick to facts.”

Oh, the Irony

That company’s official values and policies encourage people to “be their true self at work.” As at many organizations today, their strategy recognizes the business value of cultivating an inclusive environment and attracting diverse perspectives. But this story about the VPs seems to show that their strategy isn’t yet being lived out in their culture.

Yeah, I get it. You’re just a ______ (fill in the blank … VP, mid-level manager, individual contributor). So many factors driving corporate culture fall outside your sphere of influence.

And yet, there are six personal drivers of culture that every person in the organization can own … and in fact, do own, whether or not they realize it. Regardless of your role in the company, it’s your job to cultivate the right culture. And you have every one of these six drivers at your disposal:


The professional in this story realized that culture is his job. After listening to the feedback, he thanked the VP (after all, the well-meaning VP was practicing caring and coaching).

And then he said something like, “I’m choosing to set that feedback aside and continue being the authentic ‘me’ in that type of situation. Because I think it’s important to set an example of being our true self at work. Our company’s culture and business sustainability depend on it.”

Which of these Cs was he practicing?

By the way, all six Cs are necessary and equally important … as I’m reminded by the consequences when I fall short in any of them. In your leadership, how are you practicing all six Cs of culture?

When you identify the reasons why high-performing employees choose your organization, it serves as a compass in guiding your ongoing development of the employee experience.

Furthermore, if you use those insights to craft an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that resonates with both current and prospective talent, it becomes a strong foundation of your employer brand and all your internal retention efforts as well as external recruiting efforts.

This is the second of a two-part interview with talent research expert Matt O’Connor. In part 1,  we discussed how to frame the discovery process, which is how to find out what makes your company stand out as a great place to work for the type of people you want on your team.

[click to continue…]


192: How to Discover Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) | with Matt O’Connor, PhD

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What makes your company different from your competitors in the talent marketplace? Can you articulate the reasons in a message that is unique, authentic, and compelling? A strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is key to recruiting, retaining, and fully engaging top talent. Your EVP is a clear message about why people choose to join your […]

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191: 3 Hacks for Emotional Transparency That Cultivates Accountability | with Jonathan Raymond

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190: 4 Steps of Emotional Transparency That Cultivates Accountability | with Jonathan Raymond

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188: Emotional Transparency — The Secret to Accountability | with Jonathan Raymond

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187: 3 Strategies for Achieving Your Goals

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186: 4 Tips from Brain Science for Communications That Boost Attention and Learning from Your Workforce | with Jamie Barnes

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With so many things competing for attention, leaders at many organizations struggle to get their people to pay enough attention to important communications — such as for change initiatives. And it’s an even bigger struggle to get them to take the messages/information to heart, remember them, and put them into action. Fortunately, neuroscience has provided […]

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185: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation | with Dan Schawbel

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The relationships between your team members make a big difference — both in terms of business results and each person’s wellbeing. As tempting as it is to rely on virtual communication and collaboration, technology too often contributes to workplace isolation and even loneliness. In today’s technology-driven workplace, particularly if some team members are working remotely, how can you cultivate a sense of community?

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