Much has been said about culture. Secret-sauce, growth-driver, vision-reinforcer, team-enabler and many more wonderful things. Culture, it is also said is what will endure. Well beyond next quarter, next year and the next decade. Well beyond business_model_2050.xlsx too, if you're around for that long.
Next up on this super important list are people. Most reading this would go so far as to say that they are the singular factor that could propel an organisation to the dizzy heights reserved only for a few. (Also probably why "talent" & "hiring" are some of the largest issues plaguing business-kind, but that's a different story for a different day.)
Sustaining a positive culture
For any organisation, the greatest challenge is to create and sustain an environment where people have enough in common that they feel like they trust each other. Where respect is always the norm. So, for employees to be effective, it also means, working hard, being reliable and going beyond the given brief—every single time.
That said, let's ponder for a bit on the not-happy path scenarios we might encounter in a high-performance environment. What do you do when your ‘rockstar’ developer doesn't play nice with their teammates? Or your ‘hotshot’ business executive who continues to be snide towards the product team? Or the brilliant designer who never bothers to come on time, like everyone else?
Which brings me to a different set of questions. Can intellect alone be a deciding factor when dealing with the eccentrics? Is per-capita IQ the most-celebrated culture marker there is? Let's dive a little deeper here.
Often, we come across astute colleagues with questionable attitudes. Perhaps because of their ambition or their intelligence—and that they manifest self-centeredness; often working in silos as per their whims and fancies. The brightest find it the hardest to flick the communal switch because they have always been better than the people around them.
The smarties find it hard to entrust any work and think of themselves as irreplaceable (to be honest, no one is). They believe their way is the only way to get from point A to B. Whether it's their intention or not; they are often seen trying to put themselves above everybody (in some cases belittle others). They like being chased, rather than being inclusive.
High performance or intelligence does not give you a free pass to bend rules, or it does not end up working for anybody. To me, the negative impact that such smart people have on the establishment needs monitoring. It could very quickly lead to an environment where colleagues start feeling marginalised and vulnerable. An organisational culture that's less collaborative, less trusting, and centred on individuals can in no way be a desired one.
So, to harness the intellectual energy that drives disruption, strike the right balance as to when to give them room to run, when to monitor them and when to intervene. Believe me; it’s easier to nip it right in the bud rather than dealing with the after-effects of a toxic culture.
A friendly advice for the employees
Merely having a fast processor between your ears isn’t enough to succeed at work. The complexity of our times demands to be dealt with common sense (which can be a remarkably broad term) and an ability to play well with your teammates.
Take it from me when I say that modesty is the key. No matter how smart you are, which college you went to, there’s always something else to learn. Don’t allow your ego to get the better of you and focus instead on being humble. It will make you even smarter in the long run.
The goal is to have people who believe what you believe. See tomorrow as you see it. Thereby creating a working environment, where brilliant people of all backgrounds, personality types, and work styles can thrive. (Diversity of thought & not just diversity of gender/race/religion is what we may set our sights on)
I firmly believe corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is entirely within reach of your leadership. Only by creating daily positive experiences for your people, can you dream of running the marathon. Together.