Humans are genetically programmed to socialize. Whether working in the same office, or relating to one another across huge distances, effective teams love being together as tribes. Great leaders develop a culture that functions like a tribe, one where people want to belong. Tribalism is the fuel of organizations. It’s why people want to go to work. But building a high-impact corporate culture takes a lot more than just putting a foosball table in the lounge.
Every company has a culture. Some become legendary.All leaders understand the idea of culture, but there are many facets to creating a culture that binds teams together. Great cultures lead to the kind of exceptional outcomes that catapult organizations forward.
What role does culture play in success?
Culture can be viewed from two perspectives. You might call them Large C and Small C. The foundation of any culture is in what the organization works on. This is Small C culture. It’s the difference maker. Strategy is a critical part of this element, because if a company doesn’t have a strategy there’s nothing to work on.
Leaders strive to create initiatives that are strategic and focused. Structure accommodates strategy. And culture can’t really exist without some kind of surrounding structure. Once a company has developed its strategy and the structure it will use to follow that strategy, then it has Small C culture.
But this is only one aspect of culture. Small C alone won’t create organizational success.
Large C culture supports the values of the organization. This might include big-picture concepts like “built on excellence” or an emphasis on innovation, or other distinctive value concept. If your organization doesn’t have a value discipline, you can’t be successful.
The values of the business are always created by the values of the leadership. Communication, achievement, change management all reflect those values in both Small C and Large C aspects, thus driving a reinforcement of the overall culture of the organization. When leadership is consistent in their clarity of these values, the culture of the entire team can walk the talk and speak the same language.
The power of language
Language is vital in creating a culture that leads to success. Every company has a language, though they don’t always know it. The great organizations, those that become legendary names, are aware of their internal language and are careful to manage it. Apple founder Steve Jobs, for example, insisted that the company’s Macintosh computers never be referred to as “a Macintosh” or “the Macintosh.” It had to be just “Macintosh” as you might refer to a human being by name. This was intentional as part of the corporate culture of humanizing technology to make it friendlier and more accessible than other brands of technology. Disney, since opening its first theme park in 1955, has insisted that all customers be referred to as “guests.” In fact, Disney even refers to discourteous visitors as “treasured guests,” further emphasizing the cultural power of language.
How do you know if your culture is effective?It can be challenging for someone inside the organization to identify if the culture is not achieving the intended results. That’s where an outside expert comes in.
Companies can even be deeply in pain yet think that this is normal. Often, they do know the culture is lacking but don’t know how or what to sacrifice in order to break through that barrier. The leadership team might not be able to identify what is causing the issues.
That’s where Executive Coaching comes into play. Having an outside expert, someone trained in the process of coaching leaders, involved makes a world of difference by identifying the real problems through in-depth analysis, then facilitating the changes necessary to create a solution.
Science. The heart of Leadership Development.
SSCA was founded in the 1970s by Dr. Bradford Spencer, who began to train leaders to apply scientific principles of human behavior in their roles. He understood that subtle differences in actions and words can significantly change the way others respond. He was joined soon after by Thomas Shenk, who is equally well versed in how these things impact corporate culture. Leaders who learned these principles and applied them consistently in their roles became much more successful. As SSCA grew over the decades, this application of science became a key distinction and has been adopted by other Leadership Coaching organizations since.
A brief history of corporate culture
There is nothing new in the concept of corporate culture. From the annual company Christmas party to the discussions that happen daily in the lunch room, internal and external relationships have always taken place. From the earliest days of business, hours of employment were controlled, staff were told what they could and couldn’t do, and those leaders who were able to blend their authority with some sense of humanity were able to create a measure of success.
In the 1800s, when Britain was at the height of achievement as a manufacturing power, Charles Dickens illustrated in numerous books the bleak view of corporate culture in those days. Leaders were generally regarded unsympathetically as overbearing bullies.
His influence created a wave of negative publicity and social criticism, making companies more sensitive, hostile, and increasingly secretive. But this caused journalists to become even more aggressive in picturing all business organizations as evil, whether valid or not.
Over time, corporations began to learn that treating people well resulted in more productivity. They improved the relationships within their organization as well as with the societies in which they operated.
Following WWII, new approaches to leadership inspired more progressive thinking about business culture. Leaders now recognized that employee satisfaction and personal initiative led to better outcomes and more profitability. Looking after the interests of employees and their families, through such things as vacation time and benefit plans, became fashionable and eventually a necessity.
Today, this evolution of organizational culture has extended to such things as whether the company has a social conscience and if its practices are good for the environment. In addition, people want to know that they have a voice. These developments have further complicated the role of leaders in building a powerful corporate culture.
How coaching helps build culture
A coach helps reinforce the language and the learning that takes place within the organization. Your Executive Coach determines your company’s goals and challenges. Using this information, they help your teams understand the language that needs to be applied to build a meaningful culture supporting the goals and one that overcomes the challenges. All of this is built on a foundation of communications clarity.
SSCA Executive Coaches utilize a number of powerful and proven tools built on decades of science. Process Communication is loaded with language. Everything the leader says has an impact. Unfortunately, it can sometimes make the wrong impact, depending on the way those words are interpreted by the person on the other end of the conversation. Coaching with the goal of improving and clarifying language is vital to your success.
Understanding perception can be taught and will only stick through coaching. In today’s multicultural and intergenerational workforce, having leaders who are sensitive to these realities is essential.
Your coach is trained to lead you through the challenges of working through cultural differences. For example, in some cultures it is considered unacceptable to ever say something negative about their working environment, while other cultures are direct and willing to speak up about things that trouble them. Coaches can bridge this communication gap, recognizing and honoring the values, skills, and training of every person in the team, while training leaders to know how to communicate with clarity.
SSCA builds conscious leaders who lead with awareness, and with the understanding of how personal style, behaviors, and decisions impact your organization and the people in it. Awareness breeds the power to pave new ground and develop profound change that drives culture and achievement.
“The culture of a company is the sum of the behaviors of all its people.”
Ready to create a winning culture?
SSCA has applied proven principles of behavioral science, to build successful leaders for more than 45 years.
How do you develop a strong organizational culture?Your leadership coach can help your company create a culture that propels you forward, we use a number of steps that evaluate the state of your current culture, examine your goals, and assist the entire organization to improve language so that everyone is unified, going in the same direction.
Finding the right people has become a lot more complex than it used to be. Making the wrong choice has become a lot more costly. SSCA becomes a partner in your selection process, from helping you know what to look for all the way to helping you make the final choice. After all, technical competence tells us whether someone can do the job. Science tells us whether a person will do the job and how.
Evaluating Team Dynamics
Often when there is dysfunction in a team, it’s not because you don’t have great people but because different personality styles are getting in the way of working together cohesively. We help evaluate the styles of all members of your team to identify where these conflicts come from, and then we guide your team to overcome those issues.
Defining Your Values
A diversity of opinions within the company on what the corporate values are can happen because those values are communicated differently over time, or because they were never clear in the first place. SSCA has proven systems that help you define and communicate the values of your organization so that all stakeholders understand them.
To ensure that your organization’s values, as well as your systems, are communicated and understood by every new hire, SSCA helps you develop a clear and concise onboarding process. When everyone on the team follows the same structure, it keeps everyone moving forward in the same direction, toward the same goal.
Experts in Leadership Development
With a full team of highly experienced trusted advisors, SSCA has a long history of excellence in building successful cultures.
How Leadership Development connects leaders to the human experienceWhen it comes down to the simplest description, leadership is the skillful use of influence. You can’t lead an empty room.
How can we relate to and understand the needs of those we lead? How can we optimize our communication style so that we can engage, influence, and motivate? How do we prepare people for major changes in business culture or focus? How do we deal with conflicting personalities? How can I be trusted in my role as a leader? These are just a few of the vital questions leaders face, yet there is no training in business school to prepare them.
Take your typical MBA program. There are courses on finance, management, diversity, marketing strategy, and other practical aspects of business. But even leadership courses tend to be light on the genuine issues of how to deal with people.
Leadership Development by SSCA begins where a degree like an MBA ends. Using scientifically verified research and insights, experienced advisors guide leaders through an understanding of the human elements of business and organizational leadership.
SSCA workshops are not your average executive training courses. Fast paced, relevant, insightful and based on highly regarded research, our workshops will give you the concrete tools to be a more effective leader.
Our deep knowledge of the behavioral sciences and over forty years of experience allow us to tailor our workshops and coaching sessions to meet your needs. We use a number of assessment instruments to analyze organizational culture and individual characteristics.
SSCA’s distinctive and proprietary approach leverages proven scientific principles of human behavior to help leaders to connect to the humanity of the people they lead, building organizations that are stronger, more resilient, and more successful. This behavioral approach to solving complex business problems has been a primary focus of the organization for more than 40 years.
SSCA workshops apply sophisticated insights into human behavior backed by proven scientific research. Learn more
SSCA’s Elements of Leadership workshops rapidly propel leaders to excellence by helping them understand and apply the dynamics of human behavior.