Culture vs. Profit: What Drives Your Business?

A simple shift in leadership could impact your bottom line more than you can ever imagine.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from talking to people recently is: knowing when to pivot is more important than ever. Over the last five to ten years there has been a shift, arguably for the better, in the way that businesses are run. From day-to-day operations to the much bigger picture, these changes are fundamental for tackling the future and making your business more sustainable.

According to the Harvard Business Review, even average companies are undergoing change and the skill of adapting to change must be a part of every business leader’s DNA. But what kind of change is taking place?

The change, according to Paul Spiegleman of BerylHealth, the Beryl Institute, is a shift in focus from the bottom line to the culture companies creates. This is where thinking like a CEO begins — your culture.

Culture versus Profit
The culture you establish within your business speaks more to the health of your business than the bottom line. When your focus becomes the culture you’ve created for your employees, it will have a direct impact on the bottom-line. However, business philosophies have not always thought this way.

Spiegleman recounts, “…leadership over the last 20–40 years really was focused in what we would call command and control style. It came originally from the military. The idea that a leader would say, ‘This is the vision, this is where we’re going, here’s how we’re going to get there, here’s your job in helping us get there, and here’s what’s in it for you.’ Very directive and to be honest that worked for many years and companies thrived.”

But, now, there has been a shift.

That shift is a focus more to the culture created for employees than what the actual bottom-line says. With a newer generation of leaders coming to the forefront, the shift in leadership has moved from money to people.

This turn in leadership focuses on one thing: “creating loyalty,” Spiegleman says. “[W]e really started with people and try to gain their loyalty. And felt if we could create a workforce where people enjoyed what they did every day, then ultimately that would drive our customer loyalty.”

It is from this mindset that companies can actually grow more efficient in altering their bottom line, in a way that the command and control style never could.

The Impact on Your Business
The idea of creating loyalty between your company and its customers is a part of your culture that must be continuously developed. If crafted appropriately it will create a sense of sustained customer loyalty that is unmatched. This sustained relationship will only help your bottom line as a leader.

It goes even farther though. This shift from focusing on the financials to the culture of your company expresses clearly to your clients and potential clients the story of who you are. Spiegleman says, “The foundation of any culture is really the mission, vision and values that exists within the organization… [a]nd to me it’s not just the vibe you get when you walk in the door. It’s really the extent to which employees or team members are willing to do extraordinary work, go beyond the call of duty. It’s the connection that they feel. It’s the story that you tell so ultimately the company is selling not what they do, but who they are.”

This story of who you are speaks great volumes to the world around you than your bottom line ever will. Not only will your marketing strategies help in telling your story, but the people on the front lines will help to spread the story too. There’s no substitute for this kind of culture. It makes everyone involved buy into the mission, vision, and values of a company. And that, is the best process for building a bigger bottom line.

In summary, Paul Spiegleman inspires us to think like a CEO by:

  • Focusing more on what the culture of your company says about you than the bottom line.
  • Having the ability to shift when shifts are necessary — change agility.
  • Creating a healthy culture, in turn creates healthy customer relationships and repeat business — thus, affecting the bottom line.

We all want to find satisfaction in our businesses. The growth of the bottom line can be pleasing, but ultimately never truly satisfying. By focusing our attention toward our culture, we can be pleased with the bottom line and satisfied in our work.

To hear more about creating a culture that is healthy and change agile, check out my interview with Paul here.