- March 20, 2023
Mastering the art of culture building
The role of C-suite within companies is multi-faceted, encompassing responsibilities such as leading specific functions, driving excellence, managing growth, and building effective teams. However, despite their diverse roles, a common thread runs through each of their responsibilities – the critical task of building and managing the company’s culture.
Even in today’s rapidly changing business landscape, the significance of culture remains undiminished, and CXOs must prioritize its cultivation to drive sustainable growth and innovation within their organizations.
In today’s work landscape, the traditional notion of working from a centralized office for a set number of hours has been replaced by a range of flexible work arrangements, including gig and freelance work, hybrid models, and more. As a result, many employees and teams may not interact in person for extended periods, making it more challenging to establish a common sense of shared purpose, values, and behavior. In this context, the role of CXOs is more critical than ever in bringing disparate teams together and fostering a sense of unity and collaboration from day one. Building a cohesive culture that transcends physical boundaries is a complex task, but a necessary one to drive success in today’s remote and hybrid working environment.
Leadership transitions represent a critical juncture where the strength of a company’s culture is put to the test. Has the organization fostered a robust and enduring culture that allows new leaders to seamlessly integrate as they propel the company forward? Companies such as Southwest Airlines serve as exemplars of organizations that have successfully maintained their culture through pivotal leadership changes. A strong culture not only enables a smooth leadership transition but also helps prevent knee-jerk reactions, such as hasty and unnecessary changes, which can have unforeseen consequences. Thus, a well-established culture is a valuable asset that can help ensure the continuity and longevity of a company’s success, even in the face of leadership transitions.
At times, organizations must undergo significant transformations that call for a different style of leadership and even a cultural shift. Mergers and acquisitions, for instance, can bring together teams with disparate skills and cultures, while changes in the market, technology, and competitive landscape may require an organic evolution of the company’s culture to remain relevant. Navigating such transformative moments is a challenging task for any CXO, but it is crucial to break limiting cultural patterns and foster a culture that is aligned with the organization’s evolving needs. This requires not only effective leadership but also a willingness to embrace change, communicate openly and transparently, and collaborate closely with all stakeholders to ensure a smooth and successful transition.
As a CXO, you are likely well aware of the importance of company culture and its impact on your organization. While many companies openly discuss culture as an intangible force that binds employees together, the true benefits of a strong culture are often invisible. These benefits manifest themselves in the actions taken by employees during challenging moments. For example, if a company values honesty and transparency, and a salesperson secures a last-minute deal with some unresolved issues, the company’s response will reveal its commitment to those values. Such real-world examples are where the power of culture truly shines.
This is particularly true for high-growth startups, which must simultaneously evolve their products, teams, and business models. As a CXO in such a dynamic environment, when should you begin to focus on culture? How do you attract and retain teams that share your values? What steps should you take when individuals fail to embody the right values? These are the tough but necessary conversations that CXOs must engage in to build a thriving culture that fosters innovation, integrity, and success.