What is Culture?

culture Oct 9, 2018

Culture is the intersection of people and values such that it produces behaviors. Sometimes those behaviors are positive and beneficial; other times they are negative and destructive. Ultimately, its these behaviors that shape our culture and impact our people (think cyclical feedback). As leaders it is our jobs to be sure that we have the right people and well-defined values so that the culture is what we aim to produce. Often times in a company, there may be intentionality towards the people side of the equation without clearly defined values. Or, values that are either aspirational or just plain inaccurate. When we have this misalignment, I believe this is what produces toxic culture. When we have hollow values, which I define as those that are not lived by the leadership, we end up with a hollow culture. People know what's real and what's aspirational and can feel the incongruence. That discrepancy and the uncertainty it creates is why it is so important that the leaders themselves embody those values. We have to create safety for our people and that begins with how we act and how it aligns with what we say.