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Building and sustaining a positive corporate culture

Building a corporate culture

Building a corporate culture is a nuanced process, but it’s one that can prove vital in securing long-term, sustainable buy-in from employees at every level. A robust corporate culture can inspire employees, foster loyalty, and drive optimal performance.

In its purest sense, corporate culture refers to more than just a set of policies and procedures, it should embody the shared values, beliefs, and practices that shape how an organisation operates. And leaders play a crucial role in shaping and nurturing this culture, as their actions and attitudes will ultimately set the tone for the entire organisation.


Understanding corporate culture

An embedded and well-formed corporate culture influences employee behaviour, decision-making processes, and overall company performance. A strong corporate culture is one that aligns with the company’s mission and vision, creating a cohesive environment where employees not only understand, but fully embrace their roles and responsibilities. It promotes a sense of belonging and purpose, which can significantly enhance job satisfaction and productivity.


However, building such a culture is not without its challenges. Leaders must balance the process of building a positive work environment with the constant aim of maintaining operational efficiency and profitability.

Articulating a leadership vision


The first step in building a strong corporate culture is the ability of leaders within an organisation to articulate a clear vision for the future. This vision will serve as a guiding star, aligning the efforts of individuals and teams towards a set common goal, all unified under the direction of your management and leadership teams. The process of effectively conveying this vision is challenging, and to get there, leaders must set an example by embodying the values they wish to see in their employees. Demonstrating integrity, transparency, and commitment in their daily actions builds real trust and credibility, which are the most essential components of a positive corporate culture.

Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, offers a great example of this approach. When Chesky co-founded Airbnb, his focus was on building and guiding a culture that valued creativity, community, and belonging above all else. He believed that fostering a sense of belonging among employees would translate into a better experience for customers - Airbnb hosts and guests. Chesky’s vision encouraged open communication, transparency, and a strong sense of purpose within the company. His vision was embedded early on and became instrumental in guiding Airbnb through its monumental growth and disruption of an entire industry.

Balancing morale and performance


It’s a given that engaged and motivated employees are always more likely to perform at their best, and maintaining high employee morale is an obvious and critical component of a successful corporate culture. Creating a corporate culture that strikes the balance between a healthy and inclusive work environment with one that also encourages high performance, can be tricky to achieve.

Slack, the collaboration and software company, managed it after many years of trial and error. Under the leadership of co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield, Slack was able to cultivate a corporate culture that prioritises both employee well-being and high performance. To do this Butterfield, implemented a handful of initiatives aimed at maintaining high morale exclusively - flexible working hours, providing mental health support, continuous feedback and open communication mechanisms were all provided and available to every employee.

At the same time, expectations around performance and levels of accountability amongst managers and employees were established, setting the bar high for everyone in the organisation.

The results are now evident, with anyone joining Slack doing so with the understanding that outstanding benefits come with outstanding performance. Butterfield’s leadership and Slack’s policies demonstrate that it is possible to create a workplace where employees are happy and productive, remaining engaged and motivated to perform at their highest possible level. This balance has been instrumental in Slack's rapid growth and success in one of the most highly competitive industries in the world.

The crucial lesson is that Investing in corporate culture is not just about creating a pleasant workplace; it’s a strategic business decision that can lead to substantial financial returns. By balancing employee well-being and satisfaction with clear performance expectations, companies can create a supportive workplace that encourages and values productivity and high-performance.Leaders like Brian Chesky and Stewart Butterfield demonstrate how a commitment to cultural transformation is a fundamental leadership component, one that drives both high morale and high performance within a company.

Effective leadership, characterised by a clear vision and consistent embodiment of core values, lays a cultural foundation that drives innovation and overall operational excellence, propelling organisations towards sustainable, long-term growth and success.


At Acumen we are dedicated to equipping leaders with practical tools to tackle real-life challenges. Our comprehensive range of training and development programs, including customised interventions and off-the-shelf courses, helps organisations foster a culture of respect and empower their employees. To learn more about our programs and how they can benefit your organisation, please contact Simon at


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