HR leader’s Freudian slip shows what many leaders get wrong about company culture

by ryanhvaughn. Posted on Sep 13, 2020    1    3

The former Head of People at Lever, Jennifer Kim, tweeted recently:

Tweet/ There are two types of tech company cultures: Type 1: “results-oriented” leaders => aggression is coded into the culture, conflict runs rampant (e.g. Uber, Amazon) Type 2: “nice” leaders who avoid healthy conflict => culture of false consensus/passive-aggression (everyone else) /End

Speaking in absolutes is a useful strategy to help ideas spread on Twitter, so I’m willing to ignore her false dichotomy here and assume she was merely trying to illustrate each end of the spectrum. Fair enough.

But it’s how she illustrated this that I found so telling.

There are two types of company cultures…1: Results oriented leaders, 2: Nice leaders.

This equivalency, that the leader = the culture, is dead on. Intentional or Freudian slip, Jennifer illustrated one of the hardest truths for many leaders to grasp:

No matter what you write on the wall, what you yourself do will drive company culture.

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Putrid-Excitement 1

those are two extremes. You could find 10 extremes that are correct or incorrect. imo it's a few extremes you do and don't do that generally describe the winning formula. Zappos has a very cult like work environment with nice leaders. Imo, adherence to the culture, vision is key. As long as you can incentivize people to stick to those things and achieve great results makes you a good chairman, ceo, and manager.

strap 5

Semi relevant anecdote here. We have loads of very secure bike storage at my office. Everyone uses it, no problems. One day my props/storage area had a bike left in the middle of it, blocking access and making my life a nuisance. I took a pic, sent it company wide and politely asked people use the bike facilities. Everyone starting coming up to me and panicking saying it's the CEOs bike!

So what? One rule for them and another for us is how things go wrong. He was good about it and moved it, no dramas. It told me a lot about how people perceive the leaders as well as their own agency within the company. Anyway, interesting insight, thanks for sharing!

Wizywig 1

"lead by example"

We say this about teaching kids. But really this is about all humans.

All leaders lead by example. Be intentional which example you lead with. If you are power hungry and entitled that is the example you set with your actions.