Our current principle Run Farther Together represents how valuable it is to bring others along with us on the journey unified around a clear purpose. The benefit is not just better results, but a deeper, positive impact on the people and the world around us. But it takes courage and uncommon sense to expect more and define the destination beyond the normal measures of success.
Courage for brands
Without courage, leaders of companies today, like individuals, live in a place of permanent uncertainty and weakness. Without bravery, perseverance and honesty there is little hope for change in circumstance and zero chance of achieving one’s full potential. Those who live in a state of fear wait endlessly for others to make the next move and operate with uncertainty, reacting to others. They are relegated to miserable vulnerability and insecurity.
Courage is the essential ingredient for both survival and growth, and as Winston Churchill so eloquently put it, “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all others.” It’s evident at birth and embedded into the first steps that an individual or a company takes, or it’s found as a result of hardship and circumstance. Without courage, we go nowhere.
According to the dictionary definition “leadership is the action of leading a group of people or an organization”.Perhaps we should look at leadership from a different perspective. Leadership is the cooperative action that is demonstrated through the talents and skills of people either in a family, community or by employees at all levels of a corporate organization.
Without the collective performance of an orchestra, a conductor has no music and an audience is cheated out of a symphony.
When people think of a leader, generally pictures of a single person appear. Some are feared while others are admired. Shifting perspective to view leadership from the group or the team—in which each person, member of a company works to achieve an overall goal through individual contributions using their talents, skills to innovate or serve others—creates incredible results every day. Both the leader and the team share a more expanded view of what leadership is and is more likely to consider the contributions of all members of the enterprise.
Think back to the people in your life who you’ve advised, whose potential you’ve recognized, and whose talents you’ve used to help you discover and shape your own.
Didn’t that process feel good?
According to research, coaching others has positive psychophysiological effects that restore the body’s natural healing processes and improve stamina. “When we care enough to invest time in developing others, we become less preoccupied with ourselves, which balances the toxic effects of stress and burnout.”
The mountain of articles, posts and books written on leadership every year reflects two realities. First, people are very interested in how to be an effective leader. And second, leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The lessons mined from one leader’s experience may not be applicable in a different context. More than offering leadership development, organizations can address this reality by creating a culture of leadership.
Creating a culture of leadership has four primary components: Self-mastery, Action, Relationship and Context.
The cover of WIRED magazine this past month read “How to Survive the Great Tech Panic of 2017”, touching on topics like robot overlords, self-driving cars, cyber warfare, comment trolls, cyber attacks, privacy breaches, Ransomware, text neck, nuke hacks and artificial intelligence.
It’s no doubt that this disruptive digital era has created a more complex business environment for brands as customers today are more engaged and connected. A company’s ability to remain agile, open and responsive in order to develop deeper ties to clients is being tested in unprecedented ways, impacting all industries and disciplines. Fortunately, these technologies have the potential to be growth enablers for businesses and leadership teams, helping serve clients and better interpret their needs more effectively.
We recently reached out to Chatbooks for an interview focused on storytelling, but talking deeper with their CMO, Rachel Hofstetter, we learned how amazing this brand really is. The values they operate by actively guide the way the company operates. Employees are actively and passionately engaged in the business, operating from a sense of confidence and empowerment. Their values-based culture results in high employee involvement, strong internal communication and a healthy level of risk-taking which encourages new levels of innovation. If there’s any doubt about the value of investing time in culture, Chatbooks is an example of the significant benefits that come from a vibrant and alive culture.
Culture, like brand, is misunderstood and often discounted as a touchy-feely component of business that belongs to HR. It’s not intangible or fluffy, it’s not a vibe or the office décor. It’s one of the most important drivers that must be set, or adjusted, to attain long-term, sustainable success.
A strong culture flourishes with a clear set of values and norms that actively guide the way a company operates.
Last year, HubSpot’s Culture Code went viral. The SlideShare, created by our CTO and co-founder Dharmesh Shah, inspired comments and compliments from partners, customers, industry experts, and competitors alike. The deck itself is remarkable, but to me what’s more important than the document is the degree to which we practice what we preach.
At the end of the day, a company’s culture isn’t about ping-pong tables, free snacks or perks. It’s about collective expectations for how you hire, fire, and work on a daily basis. People talk a lot about business plans as it relates to your P&L, cash flows, and strategy to beat your competitors, but invest very little time and energy into codified how they actually run and manage the business on a daily basis.
Businesses who ignore their company’s culture do so at their peril. In a recent study of 15,000 millennials, “people and culture fit” far outpaced any other option as their top consideration for employment. You can give out all the t-shirts and swag you want, but the next generation of world-class talent is cognizant of the fact that they’ll spend years of their lives at work.
When any movement gains momentum for a sustained period of time, the “[Insert Movement] is Dead” article appears like clockwork. The corporate culture movement is no exception, yet the recent death knell piece in MIT Sloan Management Review, The End of Corporate Culture as We Know It, is more perceptive than prophetic because the future is already here.
Having worked in the world of culture in various forms – leader, builder, guide – for the past decade and exposed to a myriad of organizational cultures, I have come to believe we are all striving for the same thing – the best way for humans to work together, produce great results and feel good about how it is done.
Therefore, most corporate value systems and cultures connect to three things: