Management guru Peter Drucker coined this phrase in the 1980s, realizing that anyone can copy your strategy or knock off your product. But nobody can copy your healthy culture.
Nothing boosts a company’s momentum, or slows it to a crawl, like the office culture. When it’s healthy, you’re exhilarated. But when it’s toxic, it’s like driving with the emergency brake on. Add in budget cuts, re-orgs and downsizing, and dark clouds start to gather. Left to fester, problems become a cancer that eats away at morale. And the business deteriorates from there.
Imagine a workplace that’s transparent and encourages wide-open communication. Managers who’ve got your back and reward achievement. Companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft make their workplace culture a top priority and are committed to a ‘purpose beyond profit’.
Then there’s the L.A. Lakers. Recently, Magic Johnson quit his job as team president. What? He’s the beloved, ever-smiling face of the Lakers’ brand. So, how shocking to see Johnson cry while announcing his departure. How bad must it be when even magic can’t fix it?
Here’s my take: The best managers don’t let problems fester. When they sense issues that need immediate treatment, they deal with them head on. Once you’ve got a handle on the problem, identify the instigators, complainers, backroom bitchers. Then bring them together in one room and say, “We’re going to discuss (problem) in a civil way – everyone’s accountable, and nobody’s leaving until it’s resolved. It’s like pouring peroxide on an open wound. It may hurt, but it will heal clean. Then we move can forward.”
Thirty years later, Drucker might agree that culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch & dinner.
Next week: Leaders Eat Last