How CEOs crank up their culture of excellence?


A few days ago, I met a customer who is very loyal to the Marriott brand of hotels. They took the time to actually find me and share their observations right away, “I can’t tell you how wonderful your staff is. They are very personable and made a positive impression on my family during our stay! We had breakfast every morning in your restaurant and love your team.”

That’s one of the reasons I love this time of the year. We carried on a thirty minute conversation about her family and how consistent the level of customer service is whenever she stay at a Marriott hotel. Throughout the conversation, I heard the word people and the positive impact they made on this customer.

As I reflected back on the conversation and all the training we developed with our team, I thought about one word-CULTURE!

Companies like Marriott, Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Ritz Carlton and the Container Store all developed their brand through an inspiring culture. The customers can feel and sense the emotional connection the employees make on every touch point.

Tony Hsieh, CEO and Advocate of Company Culture says, “Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.”

Who is taking the initiative to shape your company culture? Is it you the leader? Or are you delegating it to Human Resources or middle management?  S. Chris Edmonds says that if leaders delegate culture, they are delegating their responsibility and authority to someone else.

Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. He is also the author and co-author of seven books, including his latest book, The Culture Engine, and Ken Blanchard’s best-selling revised and enhanced edition of Leading at a Higher Level.

Many leaders are focusing as they should on performance expectations. But, that’s only half of the equation to creating a great culture! The companies I mentioned earlier got the performance and the culture right! The leaders of these companies model the way and cultivate a healthy culture that creates sustainable business results with employees and customers alike. No one is left out.

Many leaders and managers complain that their people are not performing to their fullest potential. Leaders must remember that a brand culture does not begin on the outside. It does not begin with the customer and vendors. It begins with your employees.

So where can you start? You want to make a difference but not sure on how to crank up your company culture. S. Chris Edmonds offers the following questions to help you get more of a pulse on how your culture is operating. Gather about 6- 8 people in your organization and ask the following questions to get a sense of what’s under the surface:

  1. How well are you treated here?
  2. Are you valued for your contribution?
  3. Are your managers credible? Do they say X and do X?
  4. Are you trusted here?
  5. Are you given authority and sense a great deal of empowerment?
  6. Are your ideas and suggestions valued?

A company culture is a true reflection of your brand, but you can’t lead unless you have taken the time to think and set in place a compelling vision, strong values and frame work to measure results and inspire your employees to delight your customers. Let’s look at some of those ideas in the interview we did with S. Chris Edmonds on the Lead with Giants TV. Below is the link for the interview.




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