Corporate Culture Leadership Team management

Culture is people

by Manu

You cannot underestimate the role of the people in defining the company culture. But how much of a company culture depends on certain people? How much Steve Jobs is in Apple? How much Elon Musk is in Tesla? If this is mostly undeniable when it comes to such iconic leaders, what about the role of “normal” people in defining and creating company culture around them? How much of your company is you?

Why do you have a job?

About 10 years ago I read an article about people motivation and jobs. The article stated that 8% of the employees have a reason to choose a certain job. For 92% is the money. It is just a job. This make me sad. There is a great deal of people out-there that choose to use their best 8 hours of the day only for money. For me this is bad news. Because I believe that you must have a reason to choose to “give” your time to a certain employer. Time is the most valuable “asset” we have. Therefore my job is about me. Is about my dreams, my goals and my family. And I was wondering if my job is giving me something back. And how?

Some may say that maybe this metric is wrong, and is no longer making sense when people can work remote, flexible hours and so on. But be honest and ask your colleagues why do they work here? I bet you won’t get a clear vision in every person. Maybe 1 in 8,9 or 10 people, depending on the organisation. There is still a huge number of people that do not have a straight answer to this question.

Then I met M

I am a consultant. And one of my clients is a corporation. With procedures, hierarchies, values, mission, vision… the whole package. Some would say that this is the company culture and the culture is more powerful than the individual. Which I would basically agree. I have seen many corporations and cultures are basically stable in these kind of environments.

An my projects were coordinated by a guy which I am gonna call M. Sometimes names are not relevant. M was the kind of employee that had his own purpose. He was not an easy guy. But he knew his way.

And in this corporate environment, he created his own world. His own way of doing. I made some unbelievably challenging projects. Out of the box, unexpected and successful. He was not the best speaker, he was not the best leader, he was not the best Microsoft XL user or the best presenter. But he had this gift of knowing what he wanted and making people listen to him.

One day I received a terrific news. M died during a visit to one of company dealers. We all mourned, but after M the projects went back to the usual corporate standard projects. Everybody acknowledged that somethings will never be the same.

And I figured out something. That the people with a purpose create their own culture around them, even if they are not the CEO, CFO, CTO… only because they care. Farewell my friend! You will be missed and you served us a great lesson!

So my question is: Do you know why you do what you do? Do you make it your own? Do you make it your own way? Because if so, you are irreplaceable. Start by creating a great culture around you. You’ll make the people life around you, simply better! Because Culture is People and People are Culture.