The Final Exam: End of my new book on Corporate Culture

not aligned

Culture is a metaphor, not a P&L line item.

The Final Exam

Sit in a quiet place, turn off your phone, take out a pencil or pen and a clean sheet of paper.  You have as much time as you need!

How would you respond if you were the Chairman of the Board?

All the vice-presidents hate the new CEO, as do most of the executives. He demands unthinkable hours, he’s verbally tough and abusive on his direct reports, and will not tolerate poor performance. He was once so unhappy with the response to a question about missed goals from a female VP that he cleared off her desk by picking it up and tipping it over. He is rude to subordinates, foul-mouthed in meetings and humiliates staff in public.

However, this particular bank had been a loser for several years prior to the new CEO coming on board. For the past six straight quarters since he arrived there have been record profits, record growth and record high share price. The Board and shareholders gave him a standing ovation at the last AGM after he presented the prior year results and projections for the upcoming year. Performance is up and the senior team and other executives are threatening to quit!

If culture is so important and impacts performance; if organizations are shadows of their leaders; if the way we treat each other trickles down to how we treat customers; and if a big part of culture is behavior, what would you do as the Chairman of the Board?

PS: this is NOT at trick question!

Culture is like the water in a fish tank, let it get dirty or contaminated and everything inside suffers. And the smell is horrible!

This is the final page in my new book – LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture.  It should be out on Amazon in both paperback and eBook (Kindle format, etc.) by the middle of November.  Just in time to order copies for your entire senior executive team for some thoughtful holiday reading.

Make a Difference!

John R Childress


About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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2 Responses to The Final Exam: End of my new book on Corporate Culture

  1. Congratulations John.


  2. Steve Borek says:

    Eventually, the water will be so contaminated, the fish won’t be able to breathe. They’ll find another tank.

    As Chairman, I’d have a good talk with the CEO. If they’re worth keeping, I’d find a strong coach to work with them.

    Can’t wait to see your book. I’d be happy to provide a review on my blog if I can get a copy.


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