As a start-up founder, you’re in a good position to set the culture of your workplace. Companies are built in the image of their founders. When a business is created, the founder sets the rules. The founder makes decisions that reflect his values and beliefs. Everything from how the phone is answered to the way orders are filled for customers can reflect what matters to the founder.
If a founder is competitive, the company will be more aggressive and competitive. If they are analytical and data-driven, the company will tend to make metrics-based decisions. On the other hand, if a founder deliberates too long over decisions, their start-up may have a hard time moving as fast as it should. If a founder is a designer, the way the company builds products will likely be led by design.
Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, is said to have sprung full-blown from the forehead of Zeus. Similarly, an organization’s culture begins life in the head of its founder-springing from the founder’s ideas about truth, reality, and the way the world works.
The energy of the Founder’s Mentality culture stems from a fundamental sense of mission and an urgency that many large organizations lack.
Below are 5 ways for leaders to influence culture
- Leaders must walk the talk and lead by example
- Establish a purpose to believe in
- Set expectations and help people build the required skills
- Reinforce a culture of accountability
- Make it personal for your team
Some individual founders have such strong personalities and values that the company continues to reflect their goals even as it grows—and even after the founder dies. Walt Disney, for example, modeled leadership, teamwork, and innovation so that, even today, the Disney Corporation is built around the values and assumptions of its founder.
Another good example of the way that founders’ values create corporate culture is Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield started out to create a company with strong social values – and they succeeded. The company started in 1978, but even today the company continues to focus on sustainability, environmental activism, social activism, and charity.