Always the Defining Ingredient

No company will ever be successful without mastering this defining ingredient

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Fortune released its annual “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, and the results are always fascinating to analyze. Editor-in-Chief Clifton Leaf kicked around several reasons why these companies made the list (“Building an Idea Factory” March 2018, p. 6). Perks such as unlimited vacation time, sabbaticals, and periodic blocks of time to work on anything without regard to the company’s normal agenda are just a few of the items that make these companies so effective at attracting and keeping talent.

The relationship however is symbiotic. All that tangible and intangible investment in its people directly drives benefits to the organization as a whole. This derives from that larger factor that causes employees to deliver their best every day—the corporate culture. Ultimately, it is the defining ingredient of any company. Leaf speaks to this concept indirectly:

“Not every company, of course, has that kind of relationship with its employees . . . But employers who can forge that trust with their workers seem to have an extra advantage on the competition: They get a potentially never-ending font of fresh ideas.”

The corporate culture drives innovation and innovation drives company success. Without that high-quality corporate culture, the opposite occurs, and that is why I say corporate culture is the defining ingredient of every organization. Here are four truths about corporate culture:

1—Corporate culture always moves from the top down. An organization’s leaders set the tone for the entire organization. Regardless of whether you have a rotten corporate culture or a golden corporate culture, look to the leadership. You can usually see the connection.

2—Corporate culture by definition is omnipresent. Whatever the company’s pervading values, ideas, behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs are, they tend to be everywhere. You cannot escape your corporate culture and that is why it absolutely affects everything you do.

3—Corporate culture can be changed. Notice I did not say “will be,” but “can be.” I have seen organizations willfully, strategically, and effectively change their corporate culture. It demands a great deal of group and individual soul searching, but for the organizations that are willing to do that, success will eventually arrive.

4—Corporate culture will make or break your company. This is why corporate culture is one of those nonnegotiables. When it comes to the story of a thriving, vibrant, successful company, high-quality corporate culture must be there in the beginning, the middle, and the end. Too many companies with great products and services have met their demise due to a dysfunctional corporate culture. On the other hand, when an exquisite corporate culture is in play, it is a beautiful thing to behold; as much art as it is science, as much relationships as it is tasks.

Thinking about your own organization, here are some questions worth asking:

  • How is your organization defined?
  • How do you want your organization to be defined?
  • What is your corporate culture?
  • Does your corporate culture need to change?
  • Will your corporate culture change?

How you answer those questions may very well send you on one of the most exciting and productive adventures of your career. I wish you the best!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


These 3 Ps Make Finding & Keeping Good Employees Much, Much Easier

by Steve Sexton

Here’s What’s Really Holding Your Teams Back from Innovating

by Kerrian Fournier
5 Helpful Tips for Building a Positive Company Culture
Work Smarter//

5 Helpful Tips for Building a Positive Company Culture

by Dharmendra Chahar

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.