Do We Want to Make Money OR Have a Nice Place to Work?
Sometimes it feels like we have to constantly choose between opposing forces. Do I want to lose weight or eat the ice cream sundae? Do I stay and finish my report tonight or go home and spend time with my family? We seem pulled between opposite attractions.
I remember asking myself as a young executive whether I had to make a choice between being a hard-driving, no-nonsense, “cold” leader who was committed to creating substantial shareholder value OR being a kind and humane leader who created a wonderful work and team environment. I actually made a career move to one company for the sole purpose of finding out if the two (financial success and great culture) could coexist.
After increasing the value of that company by 9 times over a six year period, I realized that my answer was not a choice of Culture OR Value. And it wasn’t even the coexistence of Culture AND Value. The real power lies in the integrated relationship of creating value THROUGH a strong culture and building a strong culture THROUGH creating value.
Creating Value Through Culture
The executive mind-set cannot be “collaboration is nice…as long as we make money.” Teamwork cannot be an ornament on the money tree, a nice-to-have as long as value-creation continues. Prioritizing value over culture restricts your ability to vigorously establish and reinforce teamwork and collaboration. An executive who does not believe that a culture of collaboration is the path to shareholder value will invariably surrender it.
When collaboration is treated as the path to value, it becomes a ubiquitous force, present in the hiring and firing practices, promotion decisions, meetings, operating principles, employee reviews and conversations throughout the company. Collaboration is no longer sacrificed in the name of value because collaboration is now intrinsic to financial success.
Creating Culture Through Value
Ultimately, culture and value reinforce each other. When value results from collaborative effort, it reinforces teamwork. Everyone feels they have a stake in and are part of that success. Value creation leads to financial rewards for all, and a sense of swagger in the workplace. “We are a strong team. We work well together and are winners. Our historical success lies in our teamwork, not in our individual abilities.”
Value and culture are far from mutually exclusive. They do not even exist side-by-side. A business can have both when the CEO makes collaboration a priority. It begins a self-fulfilling cycle of cultural and financial prosperity.