The concept of “culture” was the topic du jour at this year’s Executive Summit in Park City, Utah. From the contractor networking events to the educational seminars, the focus of conversation invariable found its way back to the importance of establishing a healthy and productive workplace culture.

Naysayers will immediately label this trend as idealistic management mumbo jumbo, that the recent focus on culture in business circles is simply the issue consultants and media types like myself are forcing on snow and ice management contractors as they prep for Winter 2017-18.

While I won’t argue the merits of those theories, I will say the concept of workplace culture, and how it influences success, has been around for a long time. We’ve just interpreted it in different ways. For example, you had the homogeny of the wool suit, tie and hat types of the Mad Men 1950s and 60s; the flamboyant “greed is good” mindset of the 1980s; and the open office playground mentality of the Dot-Com Era.

These were all cultural templates businesses have aspired to for instant or greater success. The collective thinking was if an organization could just trace that management philosophy on top of its business blueprint, then greater profits, market share and prestige were inevitable.

Naive thinking? Probably. Overly simplified and idealistic management philosophy? Perhaps. Doomed to failure? In hindsight, yes.

So, what makes this recent epiphany any different from those that have peppered eager entrepreneurial minds over the last century?

Establishing a winning culture puts the onus directly on you for not only inspiration, but vision, guidance and execution. Don’t look to others for answers. Rather, the responsibility rests squarely on your shoulders, and how you manage that culture will deem your ultimate success.

Instead of looking elsewhere for inspiration and successful examples to replicate, you are being asked to define your own organization’s own unique culture. If you don’t already have one, then you need to start by asking yourself: “Who are we and what do we want to represent in our market?”

The response to that statement should, at the very least, call into question your attitudes toward the following:

  • Are you committed to Industry Standards?
  • Have you established values for your integrity and principles? Have you communicated those to your employees and customers?
  • Are your hiring practices helping or hindering your culture? (For more on this, check out this month’s cover story)
  • As a business leader, do you set the tone and lead by example? Do you allow others the ability to do the same?

Bottom line, a successful culture has everyone on the same page about what is needed and expected. As such, you know you’re on the right track when your employees, clients – even competitors – can confidently and correctly respond to the question: What’s our company’s culture?