Corporate Culture: Actions Speak Louder than Words



“A culture is made — or destroyed — by its articulate voices.” — Ayn Rand

Culture is not what you say, it’s what you do.

A corporate culture is the values the organization lives by.

It’s not what you say you value.

It’s what you actually show you value, through your actions.

It’s what people really get rewarded or punished for.

When it comes to corporate culture, actions speak louder than words.

In A Simple Statement: A Guide to Nonprofit Arts Management and Leadership, Jamie Grady writes about corporate culture and the role that values play in shaping the success.

Key Takeaways

Here are my key takeaways:

  • Culture is made up of both tangible and intangible factors.  I like the distinction between the tangible and intangible factors that make up a corporate culture.
  • You know whether you fit in an organization, based on whether there is a match or conflict of values.  It seems obvious in hindsight how important it is that your personal values aren’t at conflict with the organization’s values. At the same time, I don’t think I’ve ever specifically focused on figuring out an organization’s values before taking a job. I have a new tool for evaluating a fit!

You shape culture through your actions and reflect your values.

Values Play a Key Role in the Organization

Corporate culture is the mash up of multiple ingredients, especially values.

Grady writes:

“When discussing corporate values, we naturally think of the term corporate culture.

Corporate culture is the culmination of many factors: the type of business the organization is in, the type of artistic discipline it presents, its programs and services, its audience, its size and location, its methods of operating, and its interaction with the public.

Even more important are the intangible factors: beliefs, values, and the norms and expectations of the company.

Values play a key role in how the organization operates from day-to-day and how it plans for the future.”

Personal Values and Organizational Success

The closer the values of the organization match the values of the individuals, the greater the success.

Grady writes:

“An institution may document its values and beliefs through the use of a statement of beliefs or artistic statement.

Regardless of the title an organization chooses for its statement, leadership must fully understand the values that drive the organization and be able to articulate them to others.

Without such a statement, employees have no resource for comparing their own values and beliefs with those of the company.

The closer the organizational values are to the employee’s personal values, the greater the likelihood that the employee will be successful in the organization.”

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