Look for Patterns: Interview with Marty Parker, Author of the Culturepreneur

Waterstone‘s President CEO, Marty Parker, sat down with Adam Mendler to discuss The Culturepreneur: How High Performance Leaders Craft Culture as Competitive Advantagequalities of a great leader, and more.

Read an excerpt from the Q&A below.

Adam: In your experience, what are the keys to building a winning organizational culture?

Marty: First, you need to understand your current culture and then understand where you want to take your culture. It’s not just about, “I’d love my culture to be this,” but also “what’s the culture required to achieve our objectives and what do we want as an organization?” That’s a pretty interesting combination.

Secondly, alignment. Ensuring that your leadership team and your organization have the right competencies and behaviors to support that future culture and that your systems support it as well. You don’t want to be doing all the right things and have compensation or development or performance management that is not in alignment with those changes.

And thirdly, what gets measured gets done. The impact that culture can have on performance over time is significant. And measurement is not just about seeing where you end up – that’s a bit of a misnomer. Measurement is about getting a sense for how you’re getting to your goals and what the progress (or lack thereof) might be.

Adam: What are the most common mistakes leaders and entrepreneurs make around organizational culture and how can they avoid them?

Marty: Well, what worked for many, many years just doesn’t work anymore. For example, just letting your culture unfold and happen. It will. But what doesn’t work anymore, or usually doesn’t work, is just letting it unfold, letting it be an outcome of trying to get results or trying to do other things.

Right behind that is the believe that it’s too hard, or that it’s impossible, to change culture. It certainly is hard, but it’s a requirement. And now, as a result of COVID-19 and the global pandemic, workplace culture in many more places is being changed whether we like it or not. So, this is an opportunity for organizations to get out ahead and say: “Okay, it’s changing. How do I want it to go? How do I want it to look? What’s going to help us? What’s best for our team and for our future?”

I think another common mistake we see now is folks trying to do everything right in terms of their culture, but not taking the time to develop, train, and focus their leaders around the requirements to facilitate that change. People drive change, change doesn’t drive people. So, you have to equip your leaders in order to make the necessary changes. Just talking about it won’t do it.

You can view the full Q&A here.