Company culture definitions spring from different origins in the corporate sphere. Some company CEOs see it as an internal genesis, with employees creating their own unique culture, or as an external force created by the customers and audiences they serve. Here are 15 company culture definitions from some of the world’s most influential CEOs.
CEO Reed Hastings shares the Netflix standards that flexibility trumps efficiency long term, titles must not measure impact within the company, individuals should manage themselves, everyone should act like an owner of the company, the result is more important than the process and everyone in the company is equal.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg started nurturing a company culture at Facebook by making a list of 10 things that precisely pinpoint what kind of person will be a valuable team member. This helps decide the kind of players you want within the company culture.
President and CEO Jerry Stritzke believes REI’s mission is to prepare both customers and employees for their adventures outdoors, while also in promoting stewardship of the environment. The company culture he promotes is one where employees are 100% immersed in the company’s interests and goals. REI says that its employees give “life to their purpose,” firmly attributing company success to workers. Stritzke has noted that employees can find benefits anywhere, but allowing outdoors-oriented employees to immerse themselves in REI culture is what makes it special.
CEO Jeff Weiner has fostered a culture centered around relationships, being open and honest, demanding excellence, taking intelligent risks and encouraging employees to behave and act on decisions as though they own the company.
Diana Middleton, Head of Global Business Marketing, notes that a company’s culture meshes personal and corporate values at Twitter: “It’s very passionate, open, transparent and vibrant [at Twitter]… The culture is really a reflection of our people and the brand’s values. When I started looking at the company’s values I found they were very consistent with my personal values… What surprised me the most is the level of transparency here. Twitter has about 3,500 employees and every employee is considered an insider. It’s pretty unusual to see so much transparency in a company of this scale. It’s a reflection of the platform where Twitter gives everyone around the world a voice and it takes that approach with its employees as well.”
CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky prefers to focus on considering each new employee as introducing entirely new DNA into the fabric of the business. He tackles the growth process as more long term, because there will be so many more employees just like each new one. The one place there shouldn’t be as much diversity is within the company’s values: “Having a clear mission and making sure you know that mission and making sure that mission comes through the company is probably the most important thing you can do for both culture and values.” Chesky says.
Founder and CEO Olga Vidisheva says your present team must uphold the core values of the company so that all future employees do the same: “Building a great culture starts with the first few employees, but it gets solidified through every additional hire thereafter. That’s why I’ve instilled a sense of responsibility into current employees: It is up to them to help us maintain our positive can-do attitude as we scale.”
CEO Larry Page keeps a classic take on company culture definitions: “Make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, has a meaningful impact and is contributing to the good of society.”
Ed Catcall, the president of Pixar, says openness is the best policy when discussing company culture definitions: “A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Lack of candor, if unchecked, ultimately leads to dysfunctional environments.”
Ex-CEO Steve Jobs felt culture eventually needed to come from making quality output: “The only purpose for me, in building a company, is so that that company can make products. One is a means to the other. Over a period of time, you realize that building a very strong company and a very strong foundation of talent and culture in a company is essential to making great products.”
Empowering employees is essential to TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie: “I think a large part of that is the fact that I’m a large believer in hiring the right people and giving them unbelievable amounts of power and autonomy.”
Co-founder Dharmesh Shah recommends writing down your strategy for creating a strong company culture: “In our early years, we didn’t talk about culture much. We hadn’t documented it all. We just built a business that we wanted to work in. And, that was great. But the real return on culture happened when we started getting more deliberate about it. By writing it down. By debating it. By taking it apart, polishing the pieces and putting it back together. Iterating. Again and again.”
CEO Tony Hsieh believes culture and brand need to be one in the same: “A company’s culture and a company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. What goes around the office comes around to the customer.”
CHRO David Rodriguez says employees who want to last longer with the company do better work: “Think about the advantage of a place where talent wants to stay 25 years. Your turnovers lower, you don’t have as many people you have to train every year… you don’t have as many mistakes. A seasoned workforce does a better job – and they cost you less money.”
Co-founder and former CEO Phil Libin recommends not taking the easy way out: “We try to have the kind of a culture that doesn’t value excuses in the sense that when you’re supposed to accomplish something, and you’re at a high level, then your job is to accomplish it, in spite of difficulty. And you’re rewarded for dealing with that.”
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