Business Leadership Today

The Power of Company Culture: A Deep Dive into Five Essential Reads


Muriel Call, Staff Writer

Workplace culture encompasses the norms, values, and behaviors that define a company. It goes beyond holiday celebrations and casual Fridays. A good company culture offers numerous rewards. 

It can improve job satisfaction, bolster employee retention, attract top-notch talent, and pave the way for innovation. A positive culture fosters open communication, feedback, and collaboration, empowering employees to work collectively toward shared objectives. Consequently, productivity levels skyrocket, leading to greater efficiency and superior-quality outcomes. 

Books on workplace culture offer invaluable insights and practical advice for leaders aspiring to cultivate a positive and productive environment. They propose strategies for creating high-performing and engaging work environments, discussing organizational values, management techniques, and environmental elements that culminate in higher job satisfaction and more fully realized employee potential.

We have curated a list of the top five books on company culture, including several by BLT contributors: 

  1. Inspire Greatness by Matt Tenney
  2. Good Comes First by S. Chris Edmonds and Mark S. Babbitt
  3. Courageous Cultures by Karin Hurt and David Dye
  4. Cultivating Culture by Brad Federman
  5. The Culture Map by Erin Meyer

These resources can assist leaders in elevating their skills and revolutionizing their organizational cultures. In this article, we’ll delve into these five influential books and the valuable insights they offer into constructing a positive company culture.

1. Inspire Greatness: How to Motivate Employees with a Simple, Repeatable, Scalable Process by Matt Tenney

Inspire Greatness by Matt Tenney stands as a beacon of practical wisdom for leaders looking to transform their organizations. This book offers a simple, scalable, four-step process that empowers leaders to consistently bring out the best in their team members and enhance performance.

Tenney, a sought-after keynote speaker and consultant, challenges the notion that leadership is an art, not a science. He presents an algorithm—a repeatable process rooted in decades of research on employee motivation—that any leader can follow to consistently inspire greatness in others.

The four-step process involves:

  1. Taking responsibility for employee engagement and acting from the understanding that a leader’s primary job is to inspire greatness in their team members.
  2. Identifying what team members need to thrive and do great work.
  3. Collecting regular feedback on how well direct supervisors are meeting the 14 universal needs people have for being engaged at work.
  4. Pairing feedback for leaders with bite-size learning that is easy to consume and act on immediately.

This process generates a strong, synergistic effect by greatly enhancing the chances of managers forming lasting habits that promote employee engagement, while also enabling employees to see prompt and meaningful action taken in response to their feedback.

Inspire Greatness is more than a book—it’s a practical guide to consistently bringing out the best in team members. It also helps leaders in your organization realize deep meaning and fulfillment at work. A must-read for those seeking to hone their leadership skills and cultivate a thriving team culture.

Author Bio:

Matt Tenney, a leadership expert since 2012, helps organizations increase employee engagement and improve performance. His innovative ideas have been featured in major media and have served Fortune 500 companies and national associations. Tenney is renowned for delivering actionable insights in an inspiring manner.

2. Good Comes First: How Today’s Leaders Create an Uncompromising Company Culture That Doesn’t Suck by S. Chris Edmonds and Mark S. Babbitt

Good Comes First is a practical guide that challenges the status quo of workplace culture. Authors Edmonds and Babbitt, with their combined 50 years of experience, present proven strategies for creating purposeful, positive, and productive work cultures.

The book is a clarion call for leaders to prioritize respect over results, to move away from toxic company cultures, and to create workplaces where “good” comes first. It provides actionable tools for promoting better teamwork, fostering two-way conversations, and gaining insightful feedback.

Edmonds and Babbitt go beyond theoretical advice, offering strategies to create cultures where good comes first for employees, customers, leaders, and stakeholders. The result? Improved business outcomes.

Readers will learn to appreciate why a “good comes first” culture is a business imperative, especially for younger generations. They’ll discover how to distance themselves from competitors with undefined work cultures, define what “good” means for their company, and build a foundation of respect and results.

The book guides leaders on how to formalize their team’s purpose, specify respectful behaviors, align their organization with their desired work culture, and hold everyone accountable for both respect and results.

Good Comes First is not just about implementing change—it’s about becoming a change champion and creating a lasting legacy as a business leader. It’s a must-read for those seeking to build a team of good people doing good work in a good company. 

Author Bios:

S. Chris Edmonds, a speaker, author, and executive consultant, helps leaders create purposeful, positive work cultures. Founder of The Purposeful Culture Group, he has worked with companies like V Starr Interiors and Five Below. An author of six books, including The Culture Engine, he’s a top leadership speaker.

Mark S. Babbitt, president of WorqIQ, transforms leadership and builds positive company cultures. Founder and CEO of YouTern, he has worked with IBM and startups alike. Coauthor of A World Gone Social, he’s a top leadership speaker and contributor to Harvard Business Review and Forbes.

3. Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates by Karin Hurt and David Dye

Courageous Cultures is a transformative guide that addresses the disconnect between leaders and employees in many organizations. Authors Karin Hurt and David Dye argue that a culture of courage is the solution, providing a roadmap to build a high-performance, high-engagement culture centered around sharing ideas, solving problems, and rewarding contributions.

The book is a wake-up call for leaders who believe they foster an open environment, only to discover that employees are holding back. It emphasizes the importance of building teams of micro-innovators, problem solvers, and customer advocates working together.

In the face of constant change, a courageous culture is not just an advantage—it’s a necessity. It ensures your company remains attractive to both customers and employees.

Courageous Cultures offers practical tools to help you understand the difference between micro-innovators, problem solvers, and customer advocates and how they can work together. It presents the latest research on why organizations struggle to create strong cultures where employees are encouraged to contribute their best thinking.

The book provides proven methods and tools that leaders can apply throughout all levels of the organization to reengage and motivate employees. It also shares best practices from companies around the world, offering strategies and techniques that you can apply in your own organization.

Courageous Cultures provides practical tools for uncovering, leveraging, and scaling the best ideas from every level of your organization. It’s essential for leaders who want to create a culture where courage triumphs. 

Author Bios:

Karin Hurt and David Dye, founders of Let’s Grow Leaders, are renowned leadership consultants from Maryland. Recognized as Top 100 Leadership Speakers by Inc. and 50 Leaders to Watch by the American Management Association, they’re known for their innovative approach and practical tools to help leaders achieve breakthrough results.

4. Cultivating Culture: 101 Ways to Foster Engagement in 15 Minutes or Less by Brad Federman

Cultivating Culture is a practical guide that challenges the notion of culture as a static aspect of your business. Author Brad Federman emphasizes the need for active cultivation of company values, offering actionable tools for promoting better teamwork, fostering two-way conversations, and gaining insightful feedback.

Federman, a seasoned author, speaker, and leadership coach, provides over 100 ways to engage your team in meaningful conversations. He encourages leaders to make meetings about more than just tasks, deadlines, and problems and, instead, use them as opportunities to deepen their understanding of the work and its purpose.

The book divides activities into eight key focus areas: leadership, communication, talent development, inclusion, team harmony, solution seeking, safety, and serving your customers. Regular attention to these principles not only sustains your culture but amplifies the presence of your values at work, leading to exponential growth in all endeavors.

Cultivating Culture is an invaluable resource for leaders striving to improve their effectiveness and actively influence their company’s culture. This book provides practical guidance for leaders looking to make a meaningful impact on their organization.

Author Bio:

Brad Federman, founder of PerformancePoint LLC, is an author, speaker, and consultant with over 25 years of experience in leadership, fostering customer experiences, and promoting collaborative cultures. With a diverse background in sales, marketing, and operations, he has worked as a leadership coach with renowned organizations, inspiring others to discover and live their “possible.”

5. The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business by Erin Meyer

The Culture Map by Erin Meyer is an insightful and practical guide that helps navigate the complex terrain of cultural differences in both work and personal life. 

The book presents a tool that plots the positions of various nationalities along eight behavioral scales, including communicating, evaluating, persuading, leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing, and scheduling.

Meyer, a professor at the Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires (INSEAD) and an expert in international business, has developed a proven model for understanding the influence of cultural differences on global business.

She expertly integrates a sophisticated analytical framework with hands-on, practical guidance, skillfully leading readers through the intricate and occasionally challenging landscape where individuals from vastly diverse backgrounds are tasked with collaborating seamlessly.

The book offers a wealth of knowledge and practical strategies for leaders looking to cultivate a positive and productive company culture. By understanding and implementing Meyer’s insights, leaders can create an environment where employees feel valued and motivated to contribute to the company’s success.

The Culture Map includes engaging, real-life stories from around the world, imparting important lessons about global teamwork and international collaboration. It’s a must-read for anyone seeking to understand and navigate cultural differences effectively.

Author Bio: 

Erin Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, specializes in navigating cultural differences in multicultural environments. Her work, which has been featured in the Harvard Business Review and Forbes, provides a framework for international executives to understand their leadership preferences. Recognized by Thinkers50 Radar, she co-authored No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention with Reed Hastings.

Cultivating a Winning Company Culture

Books on workplace culture serve as a treasure trove of insights and practical advice for leaders aiming to foster a positive and productive environment. 

They offer a roadmap to creating high-performing and engaging work environments, discussing organizational values, management techniques, and environmental elements that lead to higher job satisfaction and more fully realized employee potential.

These books provide a deep dive into the intricacies of company culture, shedding light on the importance of a strong, positive culture in driving employee engagement, boosting productivity, attracting top talent, and fostering innovation. They underscore the fact that company culture is not a static entity but a dynamic one that needs to be actively cultivated and nurtured.

Leaders can draw inspiration from these books to understand the nuances of their own company cultures, identify areas for improvement, and implement strategies to transform their workplaces. The books offer a plethora of strategies, ranging from promoting better teamwork to creating two-way conversations with employees to gaining better feedback about the state of affairs.

They highlight the role of leaders in shaping company culture. They emphasize that leaders are not just responsible for setting the vision and direction of the company, but also for creating an environment where employees feel valued, engaged, and motivated to contribute to the company’s success.

These insightful books serve as a guide for leaders to navigate the complex terrain of company culture. They equip leaders with the knowledge and tools to cultivate winning company cultures that not only drive business success but also create workplaces where employees thrive. 

By understanding and implementing the insights these books offer, leaders can truly transform their organizations and set them on a path to sustained success.

Muriel Call

Muriel Call

Staff Writer / Editor

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