Culture Starts with Leadership

I was passed this by a friend, Khürt, who asked me why I hadn’t written about this particular topic quite yet… the honest truth is that I haven’t had time and that I wanted to hear a bit more about how all of this plays out.

But, he’s right. Waiting for the conclusion of the Uber debacle isn’t a good time to weigh-in and so, well, I’ll provide a few thoughts on the matter… just a few. Maybe one. Or two.

Particularly, Khürt sent over this article centering around CEOs and the company cultures that they create:

CEOs have enormously powerful impacts on the companies they lead and the cultures they foster. That influence can be positive or negative…

100%. CEOs set the tone, the pace, and the expectations for their early employees who then carry those values into the next folks that they hire, and so on. And it starts from Day #1:

All of this leads me to believe that the decisions a founder or founding team makes in the first few months of a company’s life are among the biggest decisions and that they are setting their destiny in place, often without even realizing it.

I agree with Fred for the most part, but what I don’t completely agree with is the “without even realizing it.” I understand that a first-time CEO and leader may not have all the context or experience to understand the dynamics and culture that they are creating and to an extent that is forgivable.

But for those that have built multiple organizations, I would venture to say that it’s intentional. Yeah, I’m going to choose a side here and not sit on the fence. It’s intentional. It’s explicit. It’s even pre-planned and premeditated.

And once the train leaves the station, well… it’s hard to turn that puppy around. Not impossible, but, near-impossible.

I think candidly about my previous ventures and the decisions that I made early on; many of those would eventually haunt me. Eventually, many of those early decisions would be the ones that caused a lot of struggle and hurt and pain.

Was it a surprise? At the time I felt like it was, but, to be completely candid, I was being dishonest with myself. I had set the tone, the pace, the culture. And if there were any fingers to point… then… well, they pointed back to me.

I have a few more thoughts on this topic as it inspired me to capture them on film, so, thank you Khürt for that! Here you go:

It’s not too late to turn back, for your organizations and businesses and your family. It’s up to us to do it though as no one else will.

The leader leads… to positive outcomes or off a cliff. You and I get to decide.