Some of my bosses were idiots, some were bullies, other were really great people. I watched in fascination as the bad ones hacked away and turned the flame thrower on any growing shoots of positive culture.
I always believed that there just had to be a better way. I vowed that if I ever found myself leading a team that I would treat them properly, be open and honest, show them respect and hold them accountable for delivery.
I observed how people behaved at work and began to understand what shaped and moulded their actions and behaviour. I noticed that company policies, management edicts and inspirational wall posters had little or no impact.
My eureka moment was in March 2006 when I was part-way through a $280m MBO. Having solid core values – that really defined and shaped a company’s culture would make all the difference.
We began a journey. Defining core values is relatively easy. Sharing them is simple. Making them real is very, very difficult.
It took me a few years with many false-starts and mistakes on the way but eventually we had a distinct and positive culture that was defined by our core values. When we faced difficult decisions, we would test options against the set off core values and choose the best fit. We began to win work on the basis of our culture, we attracted good people to come and join us and hardly anyone left.
Part of what I do today is to share the many lessons from leading large organizations for many years.
The challenges of growing a business. I started with two people working for me and ended up with over 40,000.
How to “do” core values. How to define, create and nurture a great organizational culture.
The practicalities of leading major change and the need to focus on people at every step.
The impact and power of using stories in business – how to find them, how to craft them and how to tell them!
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