Leadership and culture go hand in hand. It’s virtually impossible to nurture a great culture if there is a distinct lack of leadership within a business or organization. Defining your goals and your collective purpose is what unites a team to inspire and energise them to row as one team.
As a result of this, establishing and cultivating great leadership is essential for any business, and it is this that sets truly great businesses apart from the rest. This style of leadership that focuses on collective goal setting and communication is the driving force behind a team’s abilities to perform above and beyond expectations, maximising productivity and allowing an organisation to achieve a common purpose.
In recent years, developing a strong leadership structure and vibrant culture has received increasing attention, allowing entrepreneurs and leaders within businesses to see the importance of this in attracting growth. These three household names have set the example for how developing great leaders and a true, authentic culture is beneficial to growth.
When discussing the culture of Netflix it’s hard to not wish you worked there. To begin with, all members of the team are entitled to unlimited vacation days and are entrusted to manage their expenses without approval from their managers providing they are relevant to business operations. Netflix also makes it clear that their remuneration is extremely competitive and use this as a USP to attract potential talent in a competitive marketplace.
Netflix focuses on cultivating a culture of ‘freedom and responsibility’ which is designed to allow their teams flexibility, whilst holding them to a high standard. Their work isn’t measured by the hours that they work, but by the quality of the work that is produced. They don’t manage or count hours worked inside the office, and focus on deliverables. “There’s no vacation policy, a nonexistent travel policy, and no annual employee reviews. The culture is meant to only attract “fully formed adults.”
“There’s no vacation policy, a nonexistent travel policy, and no annual employee reviews. The culture is meant to only attract “fully formed adults.”‘ – Patty Ford (Former Chief Talent Officer, Netflix)
In this 124 page slideshow on Slideshare that was written by Reed Hastings (CEO of Netflix) alongside Patty Ford it details that their strong culture is not created by extravagant benefits, parties or designer offices, rather that their focus is on developing and attracting world-class talent that improves the quality of work for the entire team. The company is also progressive when it comes to maternity leave, one of the first companies in the United States to offer unlimited maternity leave cover, and the choice to come back to work either part-time or full-time.
Leaders in the company are asked to act by example, often taking long vacations but making sure to set the tone of returning feeling inspired and invigorated to produce big ideas and continue to turn out work of the highest standard. This is essential in communicating through example that the focus is on what people get done and not on how many days they worked.
The management style when it comes to coaching team members is to look inwards rather than outwards. Their motto is that when one of your talented people does something that inhibits productivity, rather than a blame culture, managers are asked to examine why this has happened and what the context was that allowed these actions to happen. In doing this, Netflix has aimed to lead with context, not control finding that high-performance teams are far more efficient when they understand the context or to put it more simply, the “why“.
When teams understand and a clearly defined understanding of what they are working towards and why, their output is far more advanced and valuable.
When you think of workplaces that have a world-class culture, Google is often the first to come to mind, and for good reason. Always ranked as one of the best places to work, Google provides their employees with a range of perks including free meals, health and dental, massages, gyms and nap pods.
All employees throughout Google are encouraged to come up with innovative ideas and to implement them. They recruit high-performing team members, and then allow them the creative and operational freedom that they need.
They utilise and implement a 70-20-10 time allocation where 70% of the time should be devoted to core business, 20% to off-budget projects and 10% to pursue ideas based on their own interest and competencies. Systemising creativity and innovative thinking has meant that Google is not only now valued at over $30 billion dollars, but that they are adding value to the world in such impactful ways that their legacy has already been set in stone, from Google Maps to Google Earth to Gmail and everything in between.
For a business like Google to attract high-performance employees the focus needs to be on a strong culture and ethos. As a result, Google is continuously innovating, changing and maintaining their culture because it’s clear that it is crucial to their success. For instance, they have opened up direct lines of communication to all of the company leaders via email, and established an open door policy- meaning that anyone with a great idea is welcomed to share it at any level of the business. Larry Page, former CEO of Google and now CEO of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) implemented a strong sense of purpose and transparency of the company’s vision and mission within the culture and attributes much of their success to this.
“My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society. As a world, we’re doing a better job of that. My goal is for Google to lead, not follow that.” -Larry Page
Not surprisingly for an innovator in the technology sector, the team has also implemented tools like Google Moderator, which is an innovation management tool designed by their world-class engineers. The idea behind it is that when people have tech talks or company-wide meetings, it allows anyone ask a question which then gives teams the opportunity to vote up questions to be answered. Through this, teams can discover new ideas or suggestions which can spark creation.
This thinking and approach to creating “great things that don’t exist” has pushed the boundaries of what the business has created and encouraged employees to do their best and set their own expectations high.
The Virgin Group
Virgin Group is a multi-million dollar empire that is the brainchild of Sir Richard Branson. Branson has become a household name in the past decade and has established a style of leadership that is now emulated across the board in similarly structured businesses.
Branson is a leader to look up to for a number of reasons. With a multinational business that has employees spread across the globe, he makes sure he doesn’t get stuck behind a desk. He gets out and personally sees his employees, meets his customers and always has a notebook in hand, ready to take down any ideas or concerns that they have with their name and email (he will always follow the problem up with them).
Every employee has a voice and every voice is important to Branson, making his employees feel valued and happy, which leads to loyalty and hard work. Branson often says that he makes sure that he has genuine knowledge of how his company is being run on each and every level by getting in there and seeing for himself. Virgin Group has also set the tone for its support of innovation with ventures like Virgin Galactic.
“Fun is one of the most important — and underrated — ingredients in any successful venture. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else”.- Richard Branson
Anyone familiar with the Virgin Group knows that ‘Fun’ is a huge part of the culture that Branson as a leader has injected into all 200 companies under The Virgin Group. In his book “The Virgin Way,” Branson says that “Fun is one of the most important — and underrated — ingredients in any successful venture. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else”. Their leadership style focuses on maintaining as much of a flat structure reporting system as possible which allows employees to be comfortable and open to sharing ideas.
Our team here at The Entourage work with business owners, and people within larger organisations, to give them the skills they need to uncover opportunities, generate innovative ideas and drive entrepreneurial growth. If you’d like to chat to someone from our team about how you can become a great leader, register your interest here today.