Culture is a buzzword today in the work environment in America. It is an extremely important topic that needs to be discussed. It’s invisible, it is sometimes intangible, and yet it holds the entire organization together. So, what is it? Culture is the personality of an organization. It embodies the way an organization behaves, and why it chooses that behavior. The simplest analogy is what I call the greenhouse effect. In a greenhouse, there are specific controls for water, light, and temperature. This creates an environment where certain types of plants can be fostered. The right adjustment of these three elements can create an environment that will foster certain plant species, but others will be unable to survive. Now let’s put that into the context of a business environment.

In a business environment where the light, temperature, and water are basically fear, anxiety, and yelling, no one enjoys the environment. No one wants to be in the greenhouse because it is fostering a culture of anxiety, distrust, disloyalty, and unhappiness. But, if the light, temperature, and water are good, solid core values that are executed well across an entire company, it fosters productivity, longevity, and growth. Every organization has a different greenhouse. Have you or someone you know ever moved from one company to another company that is in the same market, in the same city, with the same or similar job description, and yet discovered that it’s 100% different? That difference is because of culture.

So where does this culture come from? That answer is simple. If you are in leadership, the culture comes from you. Your organization already has a culture, because whether you realize it or not, you have been pouring into that culture ever since you took a leadership role. You are the culture. You set the tone. You set the desired outcome. And what you tolerate will dominate. Because everyone else will tolerate it as well. And whatever trends you set into motion through action, those trends will eventually permeate through your entire organization. Typically, what happens is an entrepreneur or a business owner creates a revenue stream, and they’re very talented, very intelligent, and eventually they realize that culture is important. At this point the temptation is to delegate it. But when that kind of person becomes empowered, and embodies the change they want to see, they are able to bring about a level of change in their greenhouse that no one else in the world is capable of creating.

You are the leader. You are the culture. You have the power to create change. So, embrace the change that you want to see, and watch your greenhouse thrive!

Jody Johnston