Corporate culture matters. How management chooses to treat its people impacts everything – for better or for worse. – Simon Sinek
On a daily basis the internet and social media are bombarded with management and leadership quotes, often posted by people that are not in management or leadership positions.
Before all fury is unleashed upon me for the former statement, let me be clear about what I mean to say.
It is very easy to post those types of quotes and it is easy for management and leadership consultants to conjure up some heart-warming sayings that have this wonderful feel-good effect on people, especially followers, since most of it falls easy upon the ears of the employees and shifts a major “social compliance burden” on the employer/manager/leader.
Once again, I am not saying that people are not entitled to post or quote. I am not saying that anyone is wrong. I am not saying that there are no natural leaders in upcoming positions, but I am saying that often these quotes idealise and romanticise an ideal world, and in reality, the business world is far from it. It is a dog eat dog world out there, where decisions are made in the spur of the moment and in the heat of the battle, where feelings, emotions and smart quotes play little role in determining corporate success.
Getting back to the Simon Sinek quote. Corporate culture matters.
Culture eats strategy for breakfast. – Peter Drucker
Building and developing a positive and vibrant culture is central to long-term business success. It must be understood by all, from top to bottom in the organisation, that the development of good corporate culture is a two-way street. It is a give and take.
The responsibility must be assumed by all in the company or organisation; it’s called taking ownership.
Now let me circle back to the beginning; to what initiated this piece. This whole piece started with the challenges of leading and managing “the eager young minds of tomorrow” that are now entering the workforce.
I know that I am treading in dangerous territory because I appear to be grossly generalising about an entire generation, but I exclude all those Generation Z’s that understand what I am saying and include all those that take offence. If you take offence; I am talking to/about you.
A business owner recently contacted me to discuss an issue at work. It basically boiled down to this: Almost his entire staff complement is comprised of Generation Z’s and he was required to have a stern talking with them regarding their pervasive lack of punctuality.
Obviously, one or two staff members took major offence and immediately took to social media and the company’s WhatsApp group quoting all sorts of leadership and management quotes and videos. One person, in particular, posted the Simon Sinek quote in the opening of this article.
Now I find it rather ironic that this staff member became a “leadership and corporate culture expert” right after receiving a stern talking on violating the implied social contract inherent in the two-way street that is, corporate culture.
In a discussion with the business owner, he asked me how to handle the situation and what to do. Now the purpose of this article is not to offer HR & IR advice on how to deal with dissent and “social media emotional blackmail” by disgruntled Generation Z’s, but rather an attempt to establish that good leadership does not imply a complete absence of employee dissatisfaction.
Even the best of leaders will always have their detractors and so will you. Even the most successful companies with strong and positive corporate cultures will lose and dismiss poor contributors, those that think corporate culture is a one-way street and that it is only on the take, with no give.
As long as your actions are ethical, you act with integrity, humility and respect, you show empathy when necessary and your actions are consistent, then you have no reason to second-guess yourself as a leader.
If your employees are not able to handle that, then refer to the latter part of the Simon Sinek quote, “for better or for worse”.
You can not compromise your values to accommodate non-contributors or out of fear for disapproval. Your corporate culture matters, and you are duty-bound to protect it.
Just remember this: