Building A Culture That Works: The CEO As The Cultural Epicenter

In this excellent post, Peter Levine, who's a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, talks about the profound impact a CEO has on the culture of a company.

This is so true ... companies are defined by their cultures ... and cultures are defined from the CEO on down. You cannot manufacture a culture that is inconsistent from the beliefs and actions of a CEO. No matter how hard you try.

It is a must read for any aspiring CEOs. Remember that the expectations you have of others must be aligned with the expectations you place on yourself. And that the behaviour of your team will eventually be aligned with, and influenced by, your behaviours.

The organization reflects the behavior and characteristics of the CEO, and that establishes the culture. Foster an environment of open communication and the organization inherits a culture of open communication. Operationally detailed? The organization becomes operationally detailed. Political? The organization becomes political. Curse a lot? The organization curses. Angry? The organization gets angry. Have a big office? Everyone wants a big office. It doesn’t matter what’s written on a coffee mug or on a “culture” slide, what you do as a CEO, day in and day out, and how you behave will define your company’s culture.

Despite the best intentions, companies often become culturally dysfunctional. This occurs when leadership has a perception about the culture that conflicts with reality, or leadership behaves differently than what might be written down.