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Cultivating a Thriving Organizational Culture: Insights from “The Seeds of Culture”

Hello everyone, Doug Thorpe here, your host of “Leadership Powered by Common Sense.” I’m thrilled to share with you the insights from a recent episode where I had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Bredeson, an expert on the pivotal role leaders play in shaping organizational culture. Dan’s journey from a Wisconsin farm to the corporate boardroom, and his book “The Seeds of Culture,” provide a unique perspective on cultivating a culture that drives organizational success.

From Farm Lessons to Corporate Success

Growing up on a farm, I learned early on that the seeds you plant and how you tend to them can make all the difference in the harvest you reap. This principle stayed with me as I ventured into the world of business. Like many, I started in sales, climbing the corporate ladder from business-to-business sales in insurance and financial services to leading entire organizations.

Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to observe a wide array of company cultures. I’ve seen what excites employees about their workplace and what drives them away. These observations became the “whys” that I sought to address in the organizations I led and eventually inspired me to write “The Seeds of Culture.”

The Organic Process of Culture Growth

One of the core ideas I discuss in my book is the concept of thinking like a farmer, not a carpenter, when it comes to culture. Leaders often fall into the trap of trying to build or transform culture through programs or committees. However, culture is not something that can be forced; it must be grown organically. If you don’t plant the right seeds, you’ll end up with a culture by default, which is often not the one you desire.

The Challenges of Inheriting Culture

In our conversation, Dan Bredeson highlighted the challenges leaders face when inheriting a team or company. Entrepreneurs, especially those acquiring businesses from retiring baby boomers, must understand and shape the existing culture to ensure it aligns with their vision and goals. It’s crucial to listen and observe how things are done, as culture affects every aspect of work, from communication to client interactions.

The Impact of Climate and Subcultures

Dan introduced the concept of climate within an organization, which is how employees feel about their work environment. Management practices significantly influence this climate, and new owners must assess how these practices affect employee satisfaction and commitment. Additionally, subcultures within specific divisions can impact job satisfaction and overall performance, making it essential for leaders to address these as well.

Real-World Examples of Culture in Action

We discussed examples of companies that have successfully embedded their values into their operations. A construction company in Florida, for instance, has thrived by prioritizing integrity and transparency. Similarly, a plumbing company in Denver has developed a unique customer engagement approach that emphasizes accountability and incentivizes employees to uphold the company’s values.

Traits of Successful Culture Farmers

Successful leaders, or “culture farmers,” maintain an affinity for people, stay humble, and remain curious about their team members’ stories. They understand that bad bosses can drive away talent and that HR’s role in developing effective managers is crucial for retention.

Proving the Effectiveness of Culture Focus

Dan shared his experience in Afghanistan, where he led a workforce of 50,000 contract workers. By focusing on training supervisors and managers, they reduced turnover and improved performance, demonstrating the power of investing in people.

Investing in People Pays Off

We also touched on a trucking company that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, chose to keep employees on payroll and pay annual bonuses despite not hitting targets. This culture of generosity paid off as they retained their team and outperformed competitors post-pandemic.

Connecting with Dan Bredesen

For those interested in delving deeper into the topic of organizational culture, Dan Bredeson can be reached on Instagram, LinkedIn, and through his website danbredesen.com. His book, “The Seeds of Culture,” is available for those looking to cultivate a thriving culture in their own organizations.

Final Thoughts

As we wrapped up the episode, it was clear that the role of leaders in shaping culture cannot be overstated. The insights from Dan Bredeson’s experiences and research underscore the importance of nurturing a culture that aligns with the organization’s goals and values. Remember, culture is an organic process that requires careful tending, much like the crops on a farm.

Thank you for joining me on this journey to explore the power of leadership in creating a culture of commitment. If you’re interested in learning more about my coaching and advisory services, visit dougthorpe.com. Here’s to growing a culture that not only survives but thrives!

Dan Bredeson has more than 20 years of leadership experience with a Fortune 500 company and several nonprofit organizations. He is a member of Aflac’s West Territory Hall of Fame and has a master’s degree in organizational leadership and learning from The George Washington University. His ideas regarding culture and performance are influenced as much by his upbringing on a farm as they are by his professional experience and formal education.

Website: danbredeson.com

Email: info@danbredeson.com

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/danbredeson

Instagram and Facebook: danbredesonauthor

Small business owners will hit an invisible wall that can stall the growth of the company. The key reason there is a wall is that owners need to shift from manager to leader. The question is, how to do that?

Doug is a coach for CEOs and Senior Leadership Teams with 30 years of leadership experience. He is the president & CEO of Doug Thorpe Group. Doug is also a podcast host.

He helps owners understand the ways they need to reshape their thinking and attitude to make a successful break through the wall.

Learn how to move from Founder to CEO.

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