What You Don’t Know . . .

vintage boy reading

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.   ~John F. Kennedy

Chances are high that most CEO’s don’t have much time to read, either for business or pleasure.  And chances are even higher most don’t read books about corporate culture. Articles and books on leadership or M&A lessons, maybe, but books and articles on Corporate Culture is for the HR executive, not the CEO.  Wrong!

Frequently I get asked the following question: “Does culture really matter?” Rather than answer this question, I usually respond with a question: “Do you think the way your people treat customers and the amount of blaming and finger-pointing when projects are off track has an impact on your business performance and profitability?” Most often the response comes back quickly: “Okay, I get it. Stupid question!”

Out of Control?

ships sail ship sea 1500x967 wallpaper_www.vehiclehi.com_24

The captain can’t control the wind, but he can control the tiller and the condition of his ship!

There are a plethora of factors that impact upon a business and determine its ability to achieve its business and strategic goals. For example, some of these forces are:

  • Global economic conditions
  • Emergence of new competitors
  • Price wars
  • Changing customer preferences
  • Technology game changers
  • Governmental regulations
  • Cost of money

These, and other external forces are constantly bombarding your organization and often interfering with your company’s business objectives.  A price war starts and your planned profit margins go out the window.  A shift in customer preferences and your next fall line-up is in danger of becoming obsolete before it is even released. A new competitor from Asia has come up with a significant product improvement.  Most businesses are at the mercy of shifts and changes in their markets and environments.  We don’t control these shifts, but we must react.

However, there is one important force for business performance that is totally under the control of the CEO and the executive team: Corporate Culture. And it has now been substantiated in many different studies over the past decade that culture impacts business performance!

The most important thing about culture is that it’s the only sustainable point of difference for any organisation. Anyone can copy your strategy, but nobody can copy your culture.

Yet, the sad fact is, most CEO’s and senior executives don’t have a clue what their culture is, and worse yet, whether their culture is a barrier or enabler to business performance!

There is, however, a new book written specifically for the CEO about corporate culture. LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture is designed to separate the useful from the crap among the mountains of articles and books about corporate culture and to provide the CEO with insights into several important issues relating to culture and performance:

  • Do you know why most culture change programs fail?
  • Do you know why Culture Statements and Value Statements do more harm than good?
  • Do you know how corporate culture is built?
  • Did you know about one of the most successful business culture changes that didn’t start out as a culture change effort?
  • Who in the organization has the most influence on whether a culture is functional or toxic? (most people guess wrong).
  • Why do great cultures drift towards the dysfunctional?
  • What is the most effective culture change methodology?
  • Why most culture surveys and assessments don’t really measure culture!
  • Do you fully understand the impact of the senior team on corporate culture? 

LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture is now available in paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Baker & Taylor and Blackwell.

Tight Lines . . .

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 john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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