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Culture is Not the Soft Stuff

One of the misconceptions that I encounter when consulting with a new client is that culture is dainty, HR material. Many people in the business world view it as something that is very passive, and just a side project, however, they could not be more wrong. Culture is not just the soft stuff. Culture is everything in an organization. Culture is the gut of an organization; it’s like the oxygen level inside of a company. When done well, everyone breathes easily. When done poorly, everything suffocates. As leaders, when we focus on the vital aspects of culture, we will always see the return on our bottom line. 

I’ve seen incredible amounts of time and energy wasted on ineffective or fear promoting policies and procedures that just dance around current day to day problems. On the flip side, I’ve seen almost imperceptible shifts in the way leadership approached things that led to a momentum of total transformation across an entire organization.

Policies and procedures are necessary, and part of every good organization. But whatever you feed in your organization is what grows. If you feed into policies and procedures, it will grow into a massive employee manual. If you feed into culture, it will grow into massive organizational change and increased productivity.

Understanding the personality of an organization, and why it behaves the way that it does, is vital for success in leadership. Prioritizing culture is prioritizing the "why" of things. And if we can change why people are making their decisions, every other factor begins to resolve itself. That’s why if you are a business owner or a leader within an organization, culture must be one of your top priorities.