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Debunking 5 Myths About Company Culture

Since the major business disruptions due to COVID-19 last year, it is more apparent than ever that today’s workforce needs an effective leadership style that transcends changing organisational principles.

Effective leadership shapes the employee experience, engagement, and wellbeing, all which are critical to a thriving workplace culture. To help leaders know where to begin, O.C. Tanner looked at 5 myths about how leadership impacts company culture:

  1. Culture is only about how people interact with each other: FALSE. 

Isn’t it great when employees are able to get along with one another, peacefully work out disagreements and work in harmony? However, culture entails much more than that—it takes into account unspoken behavioural norms as well. Recent research[i] finds that toxic workplace behaviours of overwork, under-recognition, and constant emails and messaging still persist in a remote work setting.

Things like beliefs, clarity, commitment, purpose, and outcomes are all big players in an organisation’s culture. In fact, leaders play a big role in connecting employees to purpose, accomplishment and one another. When leaders succeed in doing so, companies have 10x greater odds of having a thriving culture, 11x greater odds of having an inclusive culture, and 7.5x greater odds of easily adapting to change[ii].

  1. A company’s culture is developed organically: FALSE. 

Culture is rooted in the everyday values, interactions, and behaviours experienced at an organisation. Without an intentional foundation of good principles, the wrong type of culture can take hold quicker than can be imagined. Besides just launching (or relaunching) your company values with a big promotional campaign, encourage employees to recognise positive behaviours that exemplifies strong company values. Recognition programs are an excellent way to embed appreciation for positive behaviours into daily work because they hold people accountable in an affirming way, no matter their role.

  1. Leaders can’t rebuild company culture: FALSE. 

A broken culture can be a by-product of poor leadership; therefore, strong leadership can repair and rebuild. Leaders are in the unique position to advocate for and mentor their teams.  One of the most useful things a leader can do is focus on developing the people who report to them, instead of just being the gatekeeper to their internal careers. New (or improved) leaders can better connect with employees for the common purpose of achieving a more positive, supportive company culture.

The fact is, every leader and employee must be on board for a cohesive and meaningful culture to propagate. Companies should train and empower every employee – whether they directly manage people or not – to view themselves as a leader in cultivating company culture. Creating a dialogue and sense of accomplishment where people feel valued will help establish a culture of appreciation.

  1. Company culture doesn’t inform performance: FALSE. 

There’s no getting around it—company culture correlates closely with its performance on just about every benchmark. Companies with a thriving workplace culture were 53% more likely to have employees that are highly engaged, 29% more likely to have employees who innovate, and 27% more likely to experience an increase in revenue[iii].

When employees have confidence in their leaders, they’re more willing to work hard for them. Good leadership influences efficiency and effectiveness, which goes on to dictate success.

  1. Creating a strong culture costs a lot of money: FALSE.

Although “fun” work cultures seem to capture a lot of attention, utilising big budgets to implement and promote a great culture through social events and employee perks can only go so far. What’s worse, is having the old-fashion thought that pay raises lead to a better culture. While fair compensation and adequate company gatherings are necessary for a better employee experience, the biggest investment in organisational culture is time.

Intentionally designing culture and practicing some patience will pay off more in the end than only throwing cash at the problem. Ultimately, having the right processes in place—propped up with strong ongoing support—will drive positive culture much further than field trips ever could. Providing growth opportunities and meaningful interactions, being inclusive, and having integrity will also lead to great overall satisfaction.


For more insights on what leaders can do to cultivate a thriving workplace culture, reserve a limited slot to hear Meghan Stettler, Director of the O.C. Tanner Institute speak at Avvanz’s Techstival hybrid conference on April 7, 2021. Register your details in this link (hyperlink:


Content has been adapted from original article ‘How does Leadership influence Organisational Culture?’ (hyperlink:

[i] Commentary: Remote Working is a respite from the office, but toxic workplace behaviours persist, Channel News Asia, Link:

[ii] Leadership, 2021 Global Culture Report, O.C. Tanner, Link:

[iii] Talent Magnets, O.C. Tanner, Link: