Organizational Culture & Values

How to create a conscious culture

Building a strong company culture remains a top priority — and an elusive goal — for CEOs of small and midsize businesses.

In the latest Vistage CEO Confidence Index survey, which captured insights from 1,518 CEOs and leaders of small and midsize businesses, more than 60% of respondents said they “strongly agree” that culture is a top organizational priority and critical to their company’s performance. At the same time, only 11% of respondents were satisfied with the strength of their company culture.

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What explains this gap? In short, it comes down to how leaders approach culture. It’s not enough to want a strong culture. Leaders have to consciously create it.

To begin building a conscious culture for your company, ask yourself these four questions:


1. Is culture on my to-do list?

As CEO, culture needs to be a personal priority — not something you delegate. Every day, you should be actively developing and promoting the culture you want for your business. While cultural development starts at the top, over time, your full leadership team needs to embrace and reinforce your vision so all employees begin to accept and practice it.

2. Are we connecting culture to metrics?

Culture needs to be measured, not just managed. While there are no hard metrics for measuring culture, your company’s performance around time-to-hire and employee turnover can serve as a good proxy. Since culture is an engagement driver, engagement studies or pulse surveys can also be effective measurement tools.

3. Am I leading by example?

Employees watch the behaviors and actions of leaders. Ask yourself: Do my actions reflect our cultural values? How do I show up to work every day? Am I walking the talk? If you don’t live your culture, your employees won’t, either. Expect what you accept.

4. Are we communicating our mission, vision and purpose?

Culture will mutate on its own if it’s not continuously and consistently reinforced by leaders, managers and coworkers throughout the organization. As CEO, you need to consistently communicate your company’s mission, vision and purpose — not only through email campaigns or posters around the office, but through your everyday actions and attitude.

For more insights on culture, download the Vistage report, Creating a Conscious Culture: Key considerations for refining or reimagining culture for small and midsize businesses.


Category: Organizational Culture & Values

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About the Author: Joe Galvin

Joe Galvin is the Chief Research Officer for Vistage Worldwide. Vistage members receive the most credible, data-driven and actionable thought leadership on the strategic issues facing CEOs. Through collaboration with the Vistage community of…

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  1. Rob

    November 22, 2019 at 1:08 am

    Hi Joe, one area I see SMB leaders make an error on is when they are hiring they are keen on ensuring the new hire fits the culture of the business. What they should be looking at is people who will add to and lift the culture to where it needs to go. In order to do this though the leader needs to have a vision of what the future looks like. Not always a given!

  2. Great article Joe. Communication, experience and helping people know where their unique qualities fit into the brand/culture is so important.

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