Posted by: kevinliebl | June 29, 2010

The Importance of a Positive Culture

Culture for SuccessDepending on the source, statistics show that anywhere from 7 to 9 out of 10 startup companies fail within 5 years of their founding.  In today’s challenging economic markets, mature companies are failing left and right.  Household-named companies who seemed rock-solid and a part of the country’s fabric, are also disappearing.

What differentiates those who fail from those who succeed?  Generally, those who succeed are “firing on all cylinders”. Clearly, I am generalizing and we can always point to companies who succeed despite themselves.  However, when you look at highly successful companies, they are typically running at very high levels of efficiency. They have maximized their probability of success by removing those obstacles that they can control and are leveraging every asset within their control.

A brilliant CEO cannot make a company successful all alone.  A world-class executive team can’t either.  It takes an entire company working in unison.  Mobilizing a company cannot happen through fear and intimidation over the long haul.  Yes, short-term targets can be hit, but over time the company will implode.

What makes great companies and attracts the best talent is a great culture.  A culture of collaboration, creativity, strong work ethic, transparency, trust, integrity and honesty creates a foundation for success.  Executive teams often ask, “why can’t we attract and retain world-class talent?”  They wonder, “why do the employees leave at 5:00pm?”  They struggle with the fact that employees “don’t think creatively and offer up good suggestions.”  Often, this is because employees don’t feel empowered and part of the team.  When the company takes a draconian approach to management and creates an environment of fear and uncertainty to drive employees, the results are exactly what you would expect – marginal at best.

Companies understand the need to get maximum efficiency out of each employee.  Yet they often do exactly the opposite through their actions.  To leverage your most important resource – your employees – treat them with respect and build trust through your actions.  Create a culture of success not through transparent statements and banners, but through actions.  Hire the best talent possible and then empower your employees to do their job, rather than be micro-managed.  Trust them to make the right decisions and understand that they will make mistakes.  You will be surprised how few mistakes they make.  Create an environment where employees are not afraid to make mistakes, but rather they recognize the value of learning from the mistakes.

I have had the fortune of meeting many successful CEOs in my career and the common theme is simple.  “I couldn’t have done it without surrounding myself with a great team, both executives and general employees.  Hire the best team possible.  Empower them to do their job well.  Treat them the way you would want to be treated.”


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  1. Many years ago, when I was managing, it was not uncommon for people to try to steal my employees out from under me. What was even more amusing was that, initially, many of my hires were scoffed at. What changed everybody’s mind? The productivity and cohesiveness of my departments was largely responsible for the changed attitudes.

    What made my employees so special was that my rules for the workplace changed them from pedestrians to members of a team. If you are interested in hearing about these rules, drop me an email and I will whip an article up for you.

    Gina de Miranda

  2. Dear Kevin,

    You hit the main core here. People empowerment. It’s funny that, everything you brought here, was written several times, but some organizations seems do not pay attention on it… but, when the boat is sinking they ask themselves “what went wrong along the way?” Great post!!

    Ed Siatti

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