The Difference is in the Culture

Tokyo Metro

I just got back from a recent trip to Japan with my family, our first time there. Having lived and traveled all over Eastern Asia, I was amazed at the difference. In Japan, people formed nice lines and politely waited for each other to cross the street. Metro rides were peaceful as mobile phones were turned off and nobody was talking on them. There was not a spot of trash on the street even though garbage bins were almost impossible to find.

This is very much the opposite of the experience you will find in many other areas of Eastern Asia. Where is the difference? It’s in the culture. It’s not about the laws or policies that are in place, it’s the beliefs people hold and how they act on them. The same goes for your organization and leaders set that tone for their teams and, in turn, for their customers. Over the years, I have visited many branches within the same organization and the difference can sometimes be night and day. This difference is usually a direct reflection of the leader at the different locations.

In Japan, people don’t keep the streets clean because they’ll get a fine for littering, they do it out of respect for the environment and others who use the same space. It’s a respect that their elders and their teachers have instilled from an early age. In the same way, highly engaged, high-performing teams do so because they find value in what they do, not because of a policy in place or a reward they’ll receive. That value is communicated by their leaders and their leaders live that message every day.

Creating an environment where people enjoy coming to work and where customers return to again and again is about building a culture defined by values. It’s done by inspiring your team to make a difference that has meaning to them and their world. Hitting KPIs, achieving sales targets, increasing quarterly earnings – these things are no more than indicators of what your team can achieve when they truly believe in what they are doing. It comes from knowing that their organization and the people that lead it always act with integrity and create a value-based company whose true purpose goes far beyond profit.

What culture exists in your workplace and how does it reflects the values held by yourself and your organization?

Related Posts:

10 Keys to Building a Culture of Accountability

Open and Candid Culture

How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity

Is the Culture to Blame or are You?

A Company Reinvents its Culture


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