What Defines Corporate Culture

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What defines corporate culture? Is it the people? The environment? The work?

The answer to that question can be many things depending on the company. In simple terms, corporate culture is a collection of attitudes, values, and behaviors that employees share in an organization. It’s how they live and exist on a day-to-day basis.

Culture is an essential aspect of a business that shapes everything from how people think to what they feel. These two components can significantly impact employee behavior, and they are the foundation for an excellent corporate culture.

Defining Corporate Culture

Culture is the invisible force in our lives by which we cannot help but be influenced. It shapes how we interact with others and what values are important to us, whether we know it is happening or not. You can see it shape attitudes and behaviors across various organizations.

There are four generally accepted characteristics of culture:

  1. Culture is not contained within one individual; it must be shared.
  2. Culture has a strong influence on all levels of an organization. It can even be conflated with the company’s brand itself since it is such an integral part of any business environment.
  3. Culture can have a profound impact on how people act and think in the long term.
  4. Culture is a subliminal force that people are hardwired to recognize and respond to.

An organization’s culture is typically a reflection of upper management that permeates across all levels.

Managing Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is one of the pillars that organizational leadership must dedicate thoughtful consideration to. Still, it is often left unmanaged or relegated to HR.

The problem that many leaders face when accounting for corporate culture is that its output is unmeasurable. Business is performance-based, so when management can easily measure the success of their company on paper, corporate culture gets overlooked. Where corporate culture is concerned, it is all about the intangibles.

Leaders must put their personal feelings aside and understand an organization’s culture reflects them. If a corporate culture is toxic or negative, it is time for leadership to look at their values to make changes that will help steer towards positivity within the company.

This isn’t just about putting on paper what the organization values; it takes a conscious effort to create a paradigm shift in how everyone works, lives, and performs within the organization. This often has to start with upper management and takes a lot of time to accomplish. Because of that, organizations often give up on their strategy to change things because it takes more time than they anticipated. However, those who intentionally work on their culture and consider it in all their decisions often can create an environment that their teams appreciate, which creates more loyalty and productivity while decreasing turnover.

Examples of Corporate Culture

Not all companies are the same, and in turn, not all cultures are the same.

The corporate culture at one company might be based on hard work and forward-thinking, while another company’s culture is all about having fun in the office.

Three styles of corporate culture include:


A corporate culture of care is a corporate culture that values its employees and emphasizes their well-being. Organizations that practice a caring style of corporate culture focus on teamwork, collaboration, and communication.

This type of corporate culture might have benefits such as providing childcare, flexible work hours, or extended parental leave policies.


This corporate culture type is strictly about the hierarchy. Corporate leaders are held in higher esteem than everyone else. Those who work below them are expected to follow their orders without question. There is less collaboration and freedom amongst employees, and consequently, these organizations are less creative.


A results-based culture is one that is focused on the performance of the company and the individual. The corporate culture’s values are centered around getting the job done, and they reward employees for their contributions to the company’s bottom line. Performance is typically based on achieving goals set forth by management.

Numerous styles of corporate cultures exist across the globe. Some may overlap, while others may be strikingly different from one another. It is important to identify the type of culture within your organization and make sure it aligns with your personal values and beliefs.

Final Thoughts

Culture is a big deal. It can encourage your success, or just as easily lead to your demise. As a leader, you must take corporate culture seriously. You don’t need to be a corporate culture expert, but you do need to understand the type of corporate culture that exists in your company.

Your corporate culture is an important part of who you are as an organization, and it can have a profound impact on how people act and think over time. It is up to leaders like yourself to decide what style of corporate culture they want their employees and clients exposed to.

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