If you owned a company and had control…or at least a huge influence in defining the culture, what would be like?  For me, I would love for my employees to describe the place using phrases/adjectives like this:

  • We have clear direction about our vision for the business and are given the autonomy to make it a reality – the boss trusts our work!
  • Collaborative, Energizing & Fun
  • We have a purpose in our work and the quality of the people who work here is amazing!
  • We WANT to make boss look good, because we look good J
  • I feel I get recognized for my work and I feel valued by the organization

… I could go on, but you get the idea.  It would be a place with a “soul”.  This brings me to my question – why would any owner of a company abdicate the culture?  By not taking an active interest in the people that work for you and defining a clear mission and purpose for the business, you don’t engage the hearts of the people.  When this happens, the place feels empty, you know, kind of heartless.  I personally know of situations like this and it’s so disheartening! (no pun intended J)  There are loads of talented people working there, but because there is no real meaning to their work, everyone just looks out for themselves and working for the greater good is lost.  What a WASTE!

It occurs to me, you don’t really need to own a company to influence the culture.  You can set the tone for your corner of the world by doing some simple things like:

  • Set clear direction for your team and tie it to the mission of the business
  • Let people know they do make difference and recognize them for their contribution
  • Take a personal interest in those on your team – acknowledge they are a whole person – they have lives beyond the workplace
  • Go to bat for those on your team, knock down barriers for getting work done and get out of their way

Are you one of these leaders?  If not, give it a go and put a little “soul” back into the workplace!  People will follow you anywhere!

Martha Deusterholft is a Partner at PeopleResults.  She can be contacted at