Here’s Why Your Company Culture Stinks – and How to Fix It

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If I hear one more leader who doesn't get it ramble on about CompanyCulture, I’m going to gag.

And then I’m going to give him or her a well-deserved klunk on the melon with their favorite paperback on the subject of culture. (Using a hardcover would be a bit excessive.)

What follows is the simple, honest truth about company culture - not the academic version.

I’ve worked alongside many academics. Nice people. But quite frankly, what’s discussed in academia is interesting and sounds nice, but it’s not always what goes down in the real world.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a manager, or a Fortune 500 executive - culture is important. But it’s not anything like the sanitized magic unicorn 'culture' you apparently need to read long books about to understand. 

What it is And What it Isn’t

Your organization’s culture is NOT a set of expectations recited repeatedly by the boss.

Culture is NOT a list of platitudes that management spent hours, weeks, or months meeting about before printing them on a pretty sign and tacking them up on a wall.

Culture is NOT solely what management expects from everyone else in the organization.

Just because you say something is "your culture" doesn’t make it so. 

Your real culture comes from how the people in your organization from top to bottom feel, behave, and think about their work, their clients, their company, and you.

You can tell them how to feel, behave, and think… but orders and mandates don't determine your genuine company culture.

It’s just lip service. Smoke and mirrors. BS for the sake of BS.

So what determines your real, genuine company culture?


Your day to day behavior. The way you treat your employees and customers. The way you feel about the work you and your team do. Whether or not YOU also display the qualities you demand of your employees and co-workers. What you allow to happen, and what you don't allow to happen.

Culture isn't announced by a boss. Culture is created, earned and demonstrated by a boss.

YOU create the atmosphere and the working conditions - therefore YOU create the culture.

Simplifying things to the extreme, the REAL culture of your company is what YOU demonstrate day by day and hour by hour.

Preach After You Practice

A leader who preaches about being on time but is often late...

Who emphasizes being organized and using processes to increase efficiency but isn’t efficient or organized themselves…

Who expects their followers to be fiscally responsible and yet they throw company money around like confetti…

That leader loses respect, kills their credibility, and fosters resentment. 

Despite the meetings and pretty signs, what do you think the culture of that organization really is?

People love to follow leaders who practice what they preach.

Everyone Loves a Player’s Coach

Being a leader isn’t about being exempt from your own rules. It’s about being the best possible example of your own rules.

When you accomplish that, people will want to uphold your principles.

They’ll walk through fire for you. Not literally… that would be stupid. But they will go out of their way to uphold the standards they see you exhibiting each and every day.

At that point you’ll have a genuine company culture worthy of that cool laminated sign you tacked to the wall.

Regardless of your position on 'the ladder' - if YOU consistently exemplify a positive company culture - others will follow without mandates, without long meetings, and without fancy signs.