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Culture is a Contact Sport

I LOVED this quote from Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity.  Terry spoke this past summer at a local business conference and stressed over and over and over again the importance of values driven culture in driving successful business.  And he was very clear, successful culture is an active leadership responsibility, NOT an accidental happening. When you leave your company culture to chance your very best result is the lowest common denominator of your team, and I’m sure you want better than that for your business.

I can’t tell you how many business owners have been surprised that their employees actually wanted more structure and clear direction on how to engage with the business.  There’s a commonly held belief that employees want freedom, and they do, but freedom is different from random, and employees really want freedom within established norms.

In her book, Built on Values, former Jet Blue exec Ann Rhoades talks about the power of a values driven culture.  The highest performing corporations in the country have values driven cultures, which is more than just having a set of values.  It is having values, then building company systems around those values.  Implementing hiring and review systems that measure engagement with company values, referring to values as a basis for resolving disputes, designing bonus programs that reflect values and making product line decisions that respect values are all ways of putting your company values into practice.  Clearly, Terry is on to something, but I think he should have been more clear:  Successful culture is a contact sport!