Most conversations I have with leaders from large organizations come down to one thing: company culture. How it does or (more and more often) does not support strategy and sustainable growth in a global market where change is accelerating and disruption is constant. While it is relatively easy to detect signs of an unsupportive, or in some cases, toxic culture, many organizations still pay lip service when is comes to actively addressing the underlying root causes or implementing initiatives such as ‘diversity and inclusion’. They may be publicly declaring their commitment, but one close look ‘under the covers’ will quickly reveal that there is not much time, energy or focus devoted to improving issues such as underperformance or lack of engagement below the surface level. I refer to this type action as a ‘LBM’ or lightbulb-moment: imagine an engine light comes on on your dashboard and instead of getting the engine serviced, you just take the annoying bulb out. An understandable approach as it seems a tall order to shift mindsets of more or less an entire organization. “Three-quarters of today’s S&P 500 will be replaced by 2027” (reported by @HBR). With cultures continuing to stifle creativity and innovation it’s easy to see why. An emphasis often made during my conversations is on the difference between well intended initiatives to invest in people versus actively driving behavior change that is critical to developing a culture that in turn will enable leaders to empower their teams. In many cases, there is no plan in place of how to reward efforts (made by employees) adequately, which leaves the question ‘what’s in it for me?’ unanswered and keeps any initiative stuck in ‘self-preservation mode’. Developing a culture based on professionalism, appreciation, consistency and trust versus frustration and fear, is the foundation of a healthy, productive workplace. The alternative to addressing the obvious in a convincing and committed way, are unavoidable financial setbacks and considerable lost opportunity costs. Understanding company culture as an expression of a value system that tends to change when it no longer serves the core need for survival, may be a first step for leaders to seriously consider making the development of a high-performing culture a number one priority versus risking their organization’s future. It has to be a REAL effort. Not only your employees know when it’s fake. Your clients know, too!