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I have spent a lot of time thinking about Corporate Culture and wondering, all things being relatively equal, what makes one business thrive and another struggle? George Bradt, a contributor to Forbes provides a useful explanation: “Given enough time and money, your competitors can duplicate almost everything you’ve got working for you. They can hire away some of your best people. They can reverse engineer your processes. The only thing they can’t duplicate is your culture”.
But what is it about an organization’s culture that becomes a tipping point? My experiences have convinced me that leadership, along with the right team, provides the platform for an organization to develop excellent products and services. Good leaders have the ability to make an ordinary workplace extraordinary by how they treat their staff, which is a strong indicator of how the organization as a whole will treat their customers. Some organizations operate as a strict hierarchy where employees are viewed as relatively interchangeable and communication flows from the top-down. In this culture customers, like employees, are likely seen as a variable at the end of a marketing process. Other organizations have shifted to a working environment which supports and harnesses employees’ creative capabilities. Here, customers are partners and their input is valuable from pre-production to post-sale.
When discussing leadership, there are many successful styles, but throughout my career I’ve been blessed to work with servant leaders and I know that nothing inspires a great work ethic in employees like a leader who not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. This leadership style is a driver at DocuTAP. Although witnessed daily, one specific occasion that stands out is when Eric and the executive team literally made and served breakfast for the entire staff. They did more than show up and flip bacon. Numerous pans of egg bake were made the day before, chef hats and aprons were proudly worn, orders were taken and the staff was served. Everyone loved this! It did more than fill people up physically, but this act of appreciation fueled them emotionally. It was a tremendous motivator for the team and a demonstration of how servant leadership has huge influence on a company’s culture.
Additionally, servant leadership seems to have a ripple effect. The DocuTAP executive team celebrates, listens to and encourages the staff, which allows them to do the same for others and creates an environment in which people want to be a part of. This type of environment seems to be a rarity in corporate America, and maybe that’s why I’m so passionate about its importance. By acknowledging the significance of a dynamic corporate culture, and then putting energy and resources into preserving it, all facets of the organization will be strengthened. In turn, you’ll have created that special something within an organization that just can’t be duplicated.