My mother and father were European, Austrian and Hungarian to be specific. One of the things this meant for me growing up was that if someone came to our house, everyone had to come out from wherever they were, say hello, and immediately we had to offer that person a drink (preferably alcoholic). If the person stayed for more than 30 minutes, it was necessary to offer them food and then, even if they declined (and sometimes especially if they declined), feed them. Providing the basic necessities of life (drink and food) was understood as a sign of abundance and wealth. We had it to give away and my parents took great delight in sharing what we had. If a guest refused our offerings, we (especially my mother), took offense. “What’s wrong with my cooking?” she would demand. “Mom, maybe they just aren’t hungry,” I would try to reason in front of our increasingly uncomfortable guest. She couldn’t conceive of it. The funny thing is that now when I enter someone’s home and they fail to offer me a drink, I find it strange, even a little rude. That’s the thing with culture, it colors how we interpret everything and, for the most part, we are blind to it.
Culture is the mostly unspoken, “this is how we do things here.” And it encompasses the, “This is who we are as a collection of people. These are the values we hold dear. This is how we treat each other, talk to each other, and regard each other. This is how we show respect and disrespect. And, this is how we come together to get stuff done.” Every collection of people has a culture. And we know immediately when we are not in a familiar one.
So once a culture, specifically a corporate culture, is established, how do we go about changing it?
Of course, as the above graphic illustrates, this is no simple task. However, below are five guiding principles:
Adults often complicate things more than is necessary, or even helpful. Indeed, there is brilliance in simplicity. Great marketers and advertisers have always known this. It is one of the reasons companies spend millions of dollars to whittle the complexity of their ideas, products and/or services down to a sentence or logo that a five-year-old could understand. Attempting to change your corporate culture is a complex and lengthy task for certain. This is why it is imperative that you can speak about it simply.
Susanne Biro is a coach to C-suite and executive level leaders. She is the founder of The Inner Life Leadership Academy, a year-long program for executive level business leaders who want to reach an unprecedented level of personal understanding and corresponding leadership mastery. Susanne is an author, program designer, facilitator, Forbes & CEO Magazine contributing writer, TEDx and keynote speaker.
For two decades, Susanne has worked internationally with senior-level leaders in some of the world’s best companies. Whether coaching one-on-one or authoring, designing, and delivering leadership programs, her passion is the same: to help leaders reach their next level of personal, professional, and leadership mastery.
Susanne can be reached at 604.864.5408 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our world has changed, rapidly and in unexpected ways. As the crisis hit, I offered and held pro bono sessions with leaders from around the world. And I want to continue to do what I can to help. As a result, I now offer hourly sessions to ensure leaders everywhere can quickly get the perspective, clarity and focus they need to lead themselves, and therefore others, well during these challenging and uncertain times.