Leaders Determine Culture

There is a wonderful story in the book Teaching the Elephant to Dance by Jim Belasco. The book is about Dr. Denton Cooley, a cardiothoracic surgeon famous for performing the first implantation of a total artificial heart. Mr. Belasco spent months following Dr. Cooley around, observing and interviewing him.

One day, as Dr. Cooley was about to enter the operating room, he spent about a half hour talking with the gentleman who was washing the floor outside the OR. After Dr. Cooley entered the operating room area, Mr. Belasco spoke with the man, noting he and Dr. Cooley had talked for quite some time. The gentleman responded, “Oh, yes, we talk every morning before he enters the OR. I always look forward to our chats.” Mr. Belasco then asked the man, “What do you do here?” He replied, “We save lives”.

I share this story with my clients when we are discovering their Core Values. I think the gentleman’s reply, “We save lives.” epitomizes the strength of Core Values. The man could have said, “I wash floors” or “I’m the janitor”. But he didn’t, because he understands the reason the hospital exists and the primary role of everyone in that hospital.

That is company culture. That is a demonstration that Core Values are not a memo from administration. Core Values have a life – they are lived every day – and they are demonstrated by every employee.

Do you need help determining your company’s core values? Do you need guidance on how to make them part of your company’s culture? I’d love to help. Please fill out the consult form below to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with me. We can start figuring out together how to make sure your team knows, lives, and breathes your company’s core values.