Culture: A Strong Foundation | Soderquist Leadership
Soderquist Leadership

Culture: A Strong Foundation

Posted on February 13, 2014 by The Soderquist Center | 2 Comments

The consistent actions of the leadership are what truly set the tone for how a culture is woven into and embraced by its associates in any company. If the behaviors of the leaders at the top reflect the company’s stated values, then the next level of leadership will carry forward those same qualities over time.

In a way, the development of a business culture is a bit like constructing a building. If your building has a deep footing and very strong foundation, it is very hard to destroy. If, however, your building has a weak foundation–not grounded in terms of values- it does not take much to bring it to ruins.

With that image in mind, think of your organization as a pyramid. The base of the pyramid consists of the leadership—a wide and strong foundation supporting the rest of the organization. If the leaders support the values that the organization is built on, the business will have a rock solid foundation that can stand up to huge pressures over time. If belief and behaviors are not rooted in values and exemplified in the leadership, the company’s culture has an exponential chance of being destroyed.

So how do leaders model this foundation strengthening behavior?

The key is to lead through example in both action and in word. I have seen and am a huge believer that leading by serving creates a culture of humility in the leadership, which spreads throughout the entire the organization. A culture driven by these two things (servant leadership and humility) generates good business, good rapport, and good relationships. In addressing what makes and strengthens a culture, it’s important to also address what can destroy a culture. In contrast to servant leadership, I have seen many companies whose stated values claim to be humility, service, trust, and honor, but their actions and behaviors show they operate in arrogance, demand, divisiveness, and manipulation. Always keep a watchful eye for these in yourself and your leaders, as these are toxic elements in any culture.

As a leader, do what you say you are going to do. Build your people in the shape of the stated values. Be sincere about being a part of the team, and most importantly live out the values in your own life.

Because none of us have “all the answers” to the business questions that we will ultimately face throughout life, remember when developing culture, as a leader, to look to others in order to gain knowledge and perspective. Look to people who think differently but truly live out their values.


Written by:
Brian Baldwin 
Client Development

Acosta Sales and Marketing

Brian joined Acosta in 1990 and is currently the President of Client Development and resides in Bentonville, Arkansas. Before his current role, Brian held several different positions at Acosta including Executive Vice President – Team leader, Senior Vice President of Operations for their Western Grocery Region and, Senior Vice President - Client Services. Prior to Acosta, Brian was with another leading Western Food Broker for 8 years holding positions from Retail Management to Business Management. Brian also worked for a Southern California Food Retailer, Lucky Stores Inc, for 4 1/2 years while attending school at California State University, Long Beach. Brian has 32 years of experience in the Sales and Marketing Agency business. He has a passion for general aviation and is an active pilot. He volunteers some of his time to Angel Flight, a non-profit organization that helps transport people with medical travel needs. Brian is on the Executive council for the Soderquist Center. He also supports the city of Bentonville, chairing their airport advisory council. Brian has been married to Michele for 32 years. They have 2 Boys, Kevin, 23 and Cory, 21.

Posted in Company Culture, culture

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2 Responses

David Cagle
David Cagle

February 16, 2014

Very timely and relevant message! Strong servant leadership sets the tone for the rest of the organization. It’s so important for leaders to do what they say in order to build and maintain trust. Thank you!

Tom Verdery
Tom Verdery

February 13, 2014

I believe that Brian’s message touches at the core of what all great leaders must do to build and maintain their organizations culture.

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