The light bulb moment happened for me a couple of years ago, before I founded CultureGene, the hybrid executive search and company culture consultancy that I now run. When it happened, it felt like I’d been catapulted into a future where leaders make business decisions based on how those decisions support living the values and fulfilling the mission and vision of the company; that future, I sensed, would be realized through culture-driven leadership. The leaders who today take this approach to building their businesses recognize culture as the ultimate asset of their companies… and they treat it as such.
At that point of time in my life, I had spent 14 years as the Managing Partner of an executive search practice, working with early-stage high-growth technology companies in the UK, Europe, and the U.S. Reflecting on the 400+ searches that I had completed during those years, I realized that the most smoothly run searches—those that had the best outcomes—were for CEOs who had a solid understanding of their company’s culture.
Achieving an understanding, even at a rudimentary level, of the client company’s culture allowed me to source candidates who were not only a suitable match for the required skills and expertise of the role, but—more importantly—as a fit to the culture of the company. This realization—my defining of what the holy grail of candidate sourcing was—resulted in me spending more time in meetings with my clients discussing their company’s culture (the values, mission, and vision of the business) than the actual role requirements.
I got hooked on the importance of company culture and decided to set off on a journey to better understand how high-growth companies developed strong and effective cultures. I started to interview CEOs who had invested in building a strong company culture to get to the bottom of exactly when, what, and how they had each gone about developing and leveraging their company culture as a business asset. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I needed to kiss a lot of frogs to find these CEOs; from my research I found that on average, only 10%—1 out of 10!—high-growth companies has bothered to define their company culture. This is an appalling figure, and one that is my duty and mission to help change."
MY PURPOSE is to is to change the culture of business by redefining culture as a critically important business function, just like finance or marketing and this is the next step on that journey.