29th August 2022 | Written by

Company Culture Begins with the CEO

Culture is increasingly recognized as a vital sign for company performance and revenue. Employee satisfaction and the ability to perform are directly influenced by the culture and work environment.

While talk of company culture is often associated with feel-good terminology and perks like ping-pong tables in the office, it really boils down to how people are treated and how leadership influences their ability to offer creative solutions and unique perspectives without fear of punishment or failure.

From a CEO’s perspective, culture should be a top priority for a number of reasons, including:

  • Maximize performance and productivity
  • Retain employees longer
  • Save wasted time and energy
  • Maximize revenue

Which begs the question – what exactly is the CEO’s role in shaping company culture? CEOs can have a massive impact on culture or they can self-isolate, limiting their influence to board members and high-ranking leadership.

Choosing to engage leadership teams while investing in company culture will send positive ripples through the entire organization. We believe it’s the CEO’s duty to build a company culture that incorporates and values everyone.

Culture Starts at the Top

Company culture has a direct relationship to the core company values, but making a noticeable impact requires more than just stating values. Healthy company culture requires hard work and dedicated processes which start with the CEO and policies that are put into practice.

A company culture where every employee, from the C-suite to the shop floor, feels valued at work can’t be created in a vacuum. It means the CEO must interact with every level of the business, be receptive to ideas and input, and be willing to create a positive environment based on that feedback.

Take Clorox CEO, Benno Dorer, as an example. He topped Glassdoor’s list of highest-rated CEOs for U.S. large companies in 2017 and had an incredible 99% approval rating. When notified of the award, Dorer said the title was humbling. “Ideas need to come from the lunchroom and not the boardroom, and that’s exactly the kind of environment we want to create,” he shared with Glassdoor.

Great CEOs and leadership members are also great listeners and they have the ability to identify and solve cultural issues in ways that lift and empower the people around them.

Happy Employees Perform at a Higher Level and Stick Around Long Term

While CEOs are responsible for architecting company culture, they are also tasked with sourcing talent, retaining employees and maximizing profit to the company. Bringing talented individuals into the fold is possible through higher pay, benefits and other perks but that’s not enough to keep them around.

Higher pay is great to leverage the recruiting process but driven individuals want to perform and they need a company that gives them opportunities to excel. This research reported in the Harvard Business Review demonstrates that companies aren’t likely to retain talent without real investments in the workplace culture.

Improving senior management elevates positive culture and core values in a way that retains talent and increases the bottom line.

How CEOs Can Transform Corporate Culture

We help CEOs and leadership teams make lasting changes in company culture every single day. A few of the biggest hurdles involve:

  • Building trust in the work environment (read this for more)
  • Being vulnerable as a leader
  • Implementing consistent cultural processes

By being vulnerable as a CEO, other leaders and members of the organization can gain trust through your empathy. Being genuine, caring and communicative across the leadership staff encourages those folks to do the same and it carries across the entire company.

The other element to the work we do with CEOs and leadership teams involves wasted time. We work to remove the obstacles standing between leaders and their goals. A big part of this involves bucking the status quo and releasing the true potential of each individual by teaching them to Say No when they know that time is better allocated to more productive tasks.

When your team is not speaking up and offering their unique perspectives in general – it’s because they are too scared of being wrong, being judged, and especially afraid of being seen as anything less than a team player. This team is:

Saying Yes to poor performance.

Saying Yes to project/role ambiguity.

Saying Yes to unnecessary meetings and tasks.

Saying Yes to spending too much time on tactical strategies that won’t move them forward.

CEOs can shift the narrative by building trust and positivity within the culture alongside processes to Say No so employees can save time and focus on the tasks that matter most.

Transform your company culture and empower employees to take action and be their true selves. We work with CEOs and leadership teams to make lasting, positive changes in company culture that elevate leadership teams and encourage higher performance. Follow us on Linkedin and engage with our insights for tips, advice and stories from great leaders.