The Soul of a Company

If the brain of your company is focus, discipline, and accountability, then what constitutes its soul? 

Is it the feeling that stays with a customer or client after they interact with you?  Is it your company’s personality?  Your uniqueness? Or an intangible thing that is hard to define but can only be felt?  

We all can agree that leadership is directly responsible for the brain of the company.  But, can we also make the case that leadership is equally responsible for the soul. 

If leadership is directly responsible for the brains of the company, then leadership is equally responsible for the soul.

Ray Langlois – Everyone Thrives

Let’s see.  

In today’s market, companies are finding it increasingly more competitive to not only recruit potential leads and referrals but in finding talent that can embrace the current trends that are related to skill sets of empathy, gratitude, humility and values.  Long gone are the days of leaders facing only forward in their metaphoric ships and taking no responsibility for their wake.  Talent has new expectations of how a company will care for and treat them throughout their employment.  

Two outcomes come to mind quickly as we ponder this new paradigm…

  • Recruiting, training and retaining talents is becoming increasingly expensive
  • Technology has created an environment that allows a former employee to give an abundance of feedback about your company    

Successful companies rarely stray from concepts of focus, discipline, and accountability.

Athletic teams have known this recipe for years.  Nick Saban, Alabama’s legendary and current football coach, believes that if you focus on the right things all of the time, the rest will take care of itself.  This is not a new concept when we think that John Wooden, celebrated former basketball coach at UCLA, and Vince Lombardi, one of the winningest coaches in the early of the National Football League, both had historic careers using this formula.  Interestingly enough, they also all knew the value of organizational culture and the role that it plays in success.  

They don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

Dale Brown – Former LSU Basketball Coach

“They don’t care what you know until they know that you care,” a phrase uttered by Dale Brown, 1980’s basketball coach with Louisiana State University at one of his summer camps.  That phrase has always been in the forefront of my mind as I took on various leadership roles throughout my career.  It still applies today.      

Jim Collins in his famous book, “Good to Great – Why Some Companies Make the Leap and  Others Don’t”, easily explains how the best companies find success easily after they overcome the inertia of installing processes related to focus, discipline, accountability.  In his book, Collins focuses mainly on the idea of establishing discipline.  Disciplined People.  Disciplined Thought (Focus).  Disciplined Action (Accountability).  

Collins sees effective and inspired leadership as key components in making the leap.  In his description, of effective leaders in companies who exhibit characteristics aligned with greatness, he describes the attributes of a Level Five Leaders:

  • Paradox (Shared Values) – rather see the company succeed than themselves
  • Driven (Focused)
  • Build Successors (Focused) – grows everyone around them and designs systems to carry on without them
  • Share Praise (Gratitude)
  • Take Blame (Empathy)
  • Normal People (Humility) – shun being a celebrity
  • Come from Within the Organization (Shared Values)

These leaders are keenly in tune to themselves, their values and the company.  But, there has to be more to it than just strategy and leadership.  You are correct!  Culture.  

In other words, simply because you add culture, such as employee engagement, to your strategic plan, doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t resonate as hollow if it’s not part of your daily practice.

Ray Langlois – Everyone Thrives

Dougie Cameron, a corporate consultant and speaker, published in a 2015 article that if “Strategy is the Brain of an Organization, then Culture is its Heart and Soul”.  In his article, he describes the fragility of culture and that it can not be mandated or delegated but it must be the responsibility of everyone in the organization.  In other words, simply because you add culture, such as employee engagement, to your strategic plan, doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t resonate as hollow if it’s not part of your daily practice.

Cameron relates that culture has to be relatable to the company’s vision. For example, if your healthcare company’s vision is related to creating hope and healing, then how you handle your employees’ needs will be the evidence that your company’s culture is relevant to care and welfare.  This will be attractive to your leads, referrals, and future employees.  i.e. Your reputation. 

You may think that your company doesn’t produce a product or service that will have an emotional hook or a cultural resonance.  You may want to reframe your thoughts or ask customers, “What problems or challenges do you face that we provide solutions for?”  Their answers can give you insight to how to build your vision and your culture.    

We must practice what we do daily for it to become a habit.  Changing a culture of a company or practicing the skills of empathy, gratitude, humility and values for an individual may seem uncomfortable at first if not even strange or out-of-place.  It may not seem like our fit at first but if you use your brain – focus, discipline, and accountability, and open your heart, tremendous changes can take place

We must practice what we do daily for it to become a habit.

Ray Langlois – Everyone Thrives

How do you begin this transformation?  The leader, individual worker and everyone involved must start with themselves.  Self-reflection and study can be useful opportunities.  Technology has provided us with an abundance of information on how to become successful at transforming your company through being intentional about creating a culture that honors your vision and those who are working towards it.  

Others find it difficult to start by themselves.  Understandably so.  These companies may want to consider hiring someone to lead them through this process.  Always an excellent opportunity to partner with a business consultant.  

However the process will come together, the results will be worth it.  

Then, Everyone Thrives together.    

Jim Collins: Good to Great

Dougie Cameron: Culture is the Heart and Soul

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