Corporate Culture REACTIVE vs. PROACTIVE : The Three I’s of Developing a Positive Corporate Culture


The Three I’s of Developing a Positive Corporate Culture

By: Jenn Chloupek


You have heard the phrase, ‘A chain is only as strong as its weakest link’.  When you stop to think about what this really means and how it impacts your organization, you will see that investing in your human capital is non-negotiable.  If we agree it is non-negotiable, then how do we do it and what do we need to do?

Just recently I had a conversation with a high-level VP from the medical industry and he said, “If you don’t control your corporate culture, your corporate culture will control you.”  Do organizations even know what corporate culture is?  Do they know what needs to be done to foster a corporate culture that continually coaches, mentors, and develops their ‘weakest link’?

Corporate culture is defined as, ‘the philosophy, values, behavior, dress codes, etc., that together constitute the unique style and policies of a company’.

Reactive Approach

I have been an executive coach for the Federal government as well as for Fortune 500 companies and too many times I have seen a ‘reactive approach’ in responding to the weakest links in the corporate culture.  Over the years, I have seen, a ‘reactive approach’: putting the problem employee on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), moving the employee to another department in the organization, or doing nothing at all and hoping the issue will disappear.  From my experience, this reactive approach is limited and most often doesn’t work; leaving the corporate culture in a state of atrophy.  Instead of thriving, the culture is barely sustaining to exist.  People become bitter which leads to a lack of communication and accountability which ultimately results in a toxic culture.

Proactive Approach – Intentional, Integrated, Internalized

However, there is good news.  If an organization embraces a ‘proactive approach’ to developing talent, corporate culture can dramatically improve and thrive.   There are 3 areas to focus on when developing corporate culture: Intentional, Integrated, and Internalized.

The first area we will look at is being intentional.  Be intentional about creating a positive, thriving corporate culture.  Corporate culture doesn’t ‘just happen’.  You need to define it and then create a plan on how to develop it.  This means being proactive!

Being proactive means you are being intentional, you (Senior Leadership) set the tone for what your vision is for your people.  It is taking stock of where you are in terms of culture, and where you want to be.  The next step is to develop an action plan of what needs to be done.  Transparency is key at this point.  After defining corporate culture and establishing what corporate culture looks like (behaviors), leaders must model and communicate expectations.  Top leadership lives the culture they desire.

As a Sherpa Executive Coach, we like to think of being intentional as: ‘Impact On Business (IOB)’.  Sherpa Executive Coaching has created a formula that defines intentional corporate culture.  The equation is: Positive Skills + Positive Behavior = Positive Impact on Business.  Each organization defines the skills or job competencies for each position–knowledge, skills, and abilities are needed for each job position.  This is an important step in attracting top talent.  As an organization, define the skills needed for each key functional area and position.  This is only half of the equation.

Positive behaviors are really what defines corporate culture.   At Sherpa Executive Coaching, coaches help develop a positive corporate culture by following a ‘proactive approach’.  Sherpa coaches work with employees proactively, guiding them to their summit.  When this happens, a common language is formed and accountability and communication soars.  It is also when behaviors become integrated into the corporate culture and people internally begin to see a shift in culture.  This is the second ‘I’ in the process.

Integration of new behaviors happens when the Sherpa Executive coach has worked with the client and has identified weaknesses that need to be addressed.  The Sherpa Executive coach only addresses and works with clients on behavior weaknesses not skills limitations.  When employees begin to work on these behavior changes by identifying career limiting behaviors, observing the behavior (who, what when, why, where), changing the behavior and then evaluating the success of the change true integration of new behaviors become the new norm.  Now we are talking about true measurement and success.  Coaches work with clients teaching them tools for success and by asking powerful questions for reflection.

Once this happens and employees begin to integrate the Sherpa process, corporate culture begins to soar.  Ramifications of this process: people begin to figure out what they are motivated by, we call this, finding your ‘Why It Matters’.  Employees are also able to have conversations about what motivates their direct reports and colleagues.  Motivation is key to corporate culture.  What would motivate an individual to apply for a job at your organization?

The final ‘I’ we will take a look at is internalized.  What we mean by internalized is that people in your organization are now internalizing their new behaviors and the word is starting to spread about your corporate culture.  Your organization now becomes a place where people want to be hired, they want to come to work, and they want to produce results.  Not only is your corporate culture changing internally, externally you are starting to influence the market.

Having a great corporate culture is no longer just an option. Today’s workers consider it as much as they consider salary and benefits. In fact, fantastic corporate culture is expected along with other traditional benefits.

While the culture that works for one company might not work for another, you can learn a lot from companies who are doing it right.


We are working with numerous Fortune 500 companies who are proactively working on their culture. This article was written by Author/Master Executive Sherpa Coach, Jenn Chloupek. To learn more about developing a corporate culture or to work with one of our executive coaches, contact us below:

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