Culture: Not Merely a Handbook

“If I can impact an executive and his or her team, I can help to change the culture of an organization.” —Srikumar Rao

Just like you can’t legislate morals, you cannot build culture by policy alone. Culture is far more than just words in a handbook, it is more than some vision painted in the hallway; culture is constantly changing, it adapts with every interaction that takes place. One of your greatest challenges as a leader is to guide the development of your culture. So, if it is not built by policy, what does build culture?

It lives and breathes

Culture is a living, breathing thing; it needs care. If you, as a leader, neglect the culture of your organization it will fail to flourish. It will slowly become toxic with the ability to poison everyone who works with your organization. Conscious care builds culture.

It evolves

Culture is constantly changing. Every act can potentially have an impact on it. Your culture can evolve in ways that benefit employees and customers alike or evolution can lead it down the path to destruction. As a leader, your actions set the example to your employees. And, positive actions build culture.

It is bigger than the sum of its parts

Culture is built out of the relationships, interaction, and the dynamics of the people in the organization. But, culture is much bigger than the sum of its parts. Every member of your team plays an important role in the organization. Valuing the contributions that individuals make to the success of the whole builds culture.

What are You Building?

Culture cannot be written into existence by any policy. Culture lives and breathes; make sure to care for it. Culture is constantly evolving; guide it in a positive direction. Culture is built on the individual relationships and interactions that make up the whole; value every contribution. Your behavior, as a leader, is what builds culture.



© 2017 Elizabeth Stincelli


Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations change attitudes, change communication dynamics, improve collaboration and problem-solving, engage employees, and strengthen organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.

Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at


3 thoughts on “Culture: Not Merely a Handbook”

  1. Hi Liz, thanks for another great article about a topic of great importance to all professional design firms.
    I certainly agree that the attitude of a firm’s principal will set the direction and focus of a firm’s culture.
    Additionally, it would be a great asset if the foundation of a firm’s culture was developed within the context of a well-defined, full accountability program, applicable to all member’s of the firm.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Steve. Thank you for contributing to the conversation!!!

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