First Principles Leadership: Create a bespoke culture for your organization to give it an edge over the competition, part 1 of 5.

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Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” — Peter Drucker

What is Corporate Culture? by strategyandbusiness

Have you noticed that when there’s a high-profile corporate scandal or large financial loss, it’s usually the person on top who gets fired? That’s because the leader creates- and must answer for- the company’s culture. Culture informs how teams behave even when the leader isn’t looking. So when things go south, it’s generally because the culture enabled it to happen. …


The 10 things to avoid if you want to be on top of your leadership game.

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

“A bad leader can take a good staff and destroy it, causing the best employees to flee and the remainder to lose all motivation.” — Unknown

For the last several weeks I’ve focused First Principles Friday entirely on what it means to be a good leader- what you should be doing. But sometimes our bad habits have a way of creeping in without us even realizing it. In addition to knowing what positive work you should be focused on, you should also be aware of the negative tendencies that could undermine your credibility and success as a leader.

Today, I’ll focus on what leaders should avoid doing. By watching out for these common leadership pitfalls, you can avoid the risk of demoralizing your team, driving them away, and not achieving your goals. …


How to eclipse expectations and accelerate your career growth.

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Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

“Joining a new company is akin to an organ transplant — and you’re the new organ. If you’re not thoughtful in adapting to the new situation, you could end up being attacked by the organizational immune system and rejected.” — Michael D. Watkins

Navigating organizations and overcoming challenges at work can be stressful but I think we can all agree, at least the ones reading the article, that we want to get ahead. We want to do well at our jobs, exceed expectations and grow and develop, taking on more responsibility as we do. But we can’t do this blindly, at least not if we want to rely on more than luck. We have to have a plan, a roadmap to get us to where we want to go. This is your roadmap!


How to use First Principles Leadership to “eat strategy for breakfast” and create a bespoke culture to give you a winning edge.

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Photo by Richard Bell on Unsplash

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” — Peter Drucker

What is Corporate Culture? by strategyandbusiness

Have you noticed that when there’s a high-profile corporate scandal or large financial loss, it’s usually the person on top who gets fired? That’s because the leader creates- and must answer for- the company’s culture. Culture informs how teams behave even when the leader isn’t looking. So when things go south, it’s generally because the culture enabled it to happen. I’ll give you a quick example:

I spent almost 7 years in the Navy as a submarine officer and after my first 2 deployments, we brought our submarine in for maintenance. A big part of that maintenance was work on the reduction gears- essentially the transmission of the submarine. The reduction gear maintenance was extremely sensitive, with numerous controls in place to prevent anything from getting inside them that could cause damage. Something as small as a screw could wreak havoc on the gears. The maintenance was conducted and inspected, but when it was time to leave port the unthinkable happened. The crew heard a strange noise from inside the gears. Flash forward through a series of poor decisions informed by a “complete ignorance of “standard operating procedures and common sense,” and the boat had suffered over $2 million of damage… from something that was completely avoidable.


First Principles Leadership: Create a bespoke culture for your organization to give it an edge over the competition, part 5 of 5.

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Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

“The reason so many efforts to establish “corporate values” are basically worthless is that they emphasize beliefs instead of actions. Culturally, what you believe means nearly nothing. What you do is who you are.” — Ben Horowitz

In the previous post of this series, I covered how to champion your new culture and put its theoretical design into practice. You can read it here:

If you’re new to this series, you should start back at the beginning. Catch up here:

I’ve mentioned this already, but it’s worth repeating- culture is not a “set it and forget it” thing. You need to be constantly vigilant and focused, and not just when you’re first championing your new culture. You will face threats to it constantly- in the ways your employees behave, in the way you behave, and in the way you respond to external events. …


First Principles Leadership: Create a bespoke culture for your organization to give it an edge over the competition, part 4 of 5.

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

“Culture only works if the leader visibly participates in and vocally champions it.” — Ben Horowitz

In the previous post of this series, I covered how to perform a culture audit to understand what’s unique about your organization, what’s strong in your current culture, and what’s missing. You can read it here:

If you’re new to this series, you should start back at the beginning. Catch up here:

Once you’ve established the wants and needs of your organizational culture, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and start implementation. I may be stating the obvious here, but building and changing culture doesn't happen overnight. …


First Principles Leadership: Create a bespoke culture for your organization to give it an edge over the competition, part 3 of 5.

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Photo by Raquel Martínez on Unsplash

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” — Simon Sinek

In part 2 of this series, I covered how to build upon the foundation of a winning culture to make it unique to what you’re trying to accomplish. You can read it here:

If you’re new to this series, you should start back at the beginning. Catch up here:

Unless you’re creating a brand new organization from scratch, you likely already have some existing culture to work with. You need to take some time to determine the type of culture you currently have so you can reconcile that with the one you want. The best way to do this is to perform a culture audit. The goal is to understand what’s unique about your organization, what’s strong in your current culture, and what’s missing. …


First Principles Leadership: Create a bespoke culture for your organization to give it an edge over the competition, part 2 of 5.

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Photo by Noah Näf on Unsplash

“Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur.” — David Cummings

In part 1 of this series, I covered what I mean when I say “culture,” and laid out the key components that all winning cultures are built upon- the 9 Foundational Virtues. If you missed part 1, you can read it here:

Once a strong cultural foundation is laid, you can build upon that and add elements that are unique to your organization and what you’re trying to accomplish. You need to know what you want- which may sound easy, but it’s not. Look at other cultures to draw on for inspiration, but keep in mind that what you’re building is for you. Don’t try and copy what everyone else is doing, really reflect on what’s right for your organization. …


Use my tried-and-tested 5-part method to identify a fulfilling career that’s right for you.

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Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

“Work to become, not to acquire.” — Elbert Hubbard

When it comes to my work life, one of my greatest passions is mentoring. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll know that I spent almost 7 years in the Navy as a submarine officer before starting work in financial services 6 years ago. As a veteran with extensive leadership experience, I have the opportunity to work in veterans recruiting for my firm. But my favorite conversations are the ones I have as a mentor in year-long programs through a non-profit. This gives me enough time to develop a relationship and work with people to figure out their next career move, where they might best fit, and potentially excel. Although these conversations are with veterans transitioning out of the military, the principles can be applied to anyone. I assume if you’re reading this, you are just starting down the road of finding a fulfilling career after finishing school, or maybe you’re contemplating a change in your career path. …


Improve your mental health and become more effective through reflective writing

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My old journals. Photo by Hannah Fields.

“I don’t journal to ‘be productive.’ I don’t do it to find great ideas, or to put down prose I can later publish. The pages aren’t intended for anyone but me, it’s the most cost-effective therapy I’ve ever found.” — Tim Ferriss

Years ago whenever I heard people talk about journaling, I scoffed at the idea. I thought journaling was like an adolescent’s diary and I really couldn’t see the benefit of it. But then a lot of things happened in my life. I developed depression and untreated, it got worse. My wife and I went to couples therapy, which turned into therapy for just me. My therapist convinced me to try journaling as part of my treatment and I finally saw firsthand how powerful journaling is. Now it’s one of the most essential parts of my self-care. …

About

Jared R Chaffee, CFA

Navy Submarine Veteran | Corporate Leader | Helping you answer leadership & strategy questions using my real world experience | www.chaptersandinterludes.com

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