“Culture is caught, not taught, reinforced not announced.”

“Culture is caught, not taught, reinforced, not announced.” (Scott Beilke, Founding faculty member of Cultural University, USA.)

When I started FD Global nine years ago, as a single business owner, it was challenging to determine what the company should represent. As a solo business owner, I had no team to access and brainstorm ideas. So how did I go about determining what FD Global Connections stood for? Did I need to create “values”, even as a single business owner? I answered yes because business partners and clients wanted to understand FD Global’s “DNA”. I also wanted to be clear on the DNA to ensure I was aligning with other businesses that held true to the same or similar values.

I started by reflecting on the organisations I previously worked with, how effective the value statements were, the level of understanding across the business, and, importantly, whether values were genuinely “lived” or not. I also spoke with other business owners, and the processes they used to determine their values, as well as which values didn’t work for them.

Once I consolidated this research, values were finalised.

Courage: Take risks. Take responsibility.

Inclusive: Play together.

Authentic: Be the person you want to be. Don’t just “do”.

Heart: Infuse into everything you do.

Growth: Share the excitement of learning.

Respect All: We all have a unique journey to get where we are today.

You may recognise that, unlike most companies, we don’t mention customers (or any stakeholder). This was deliberate from the outset. However, if we infuse our values into all of our work, including ensuring our partners adhere to our value set, our experience is that our clients will be satisfied. This has been validated over the years with regular referrals and repeat business.

We also don’t have any reference to “winning”, such as “Win as a team”. In my experience, that’s a pathway towards a competitive, aggressive work environment.

Why is culture important? In today’s fast-paced and constantly evolving business landscape, attracting, developing, and retaining top talent is critical to driving growth and staying competitive. In today’s job market, skilled workers are in high demand, and companies that prioritise talent management avoid losing their best employees to competitors.

Amanda Leigh Doueihi, Founder/CEO, Nomadic Breeze International, believes that creating an environment of trust and safety is crucial to empowering people to take creative risks. “When your team feels safe within the company culture, it creates a ripple effect that extends to all stakeholders. This sense of security enables the team to flourish, and in turn, allows for a smoother flow of productivity and success.”

How then, do businesses maintain their ensure as their business expands into new markets? The answer is simple – and harks back to another famous saying “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. It’s vital that leaders have the feedback mechanisms in place to measure and track “culture”. This could be an annual survey or more regular monitoring systems.

As we all operate in a global virtual business, maintaining the culture is one of the most challenging roles for leaders. Creating and leading an authentic culture improves employee engagement and productivity. Employees who feel valued, supported, and challenged are more likely to be engaged and committed to the company. An effective culture also enables fostering of innovation. For example, if I consider the services I offered nine years ago and how they have evolved into what FD Global provides today, it’s because my business partners and clients have shared ideas and insights and prepared to take risks.

As we said at the top, “Culture is caught, not taught”. Creating a safe, productive culture, aligning with your business partners and implementing monitoring systems are essential for a business to thrive. It’s time to prioritise, implement, and monitor your authentic culture.