Jerry Cahn

How Well Do You Know Your Current Culture?

How well do we really know our cultures?

As we think about the migration of traditional companies from ones where most employees work in the office daily to the new hybrid and virtual work – where a sizable proportion of workers do not have to come to work every day, it is likely that we will experience changes in our culture.  

It would be good to catch changes early, so we can respond to the new headwinds. Remember, Peter Drucker said “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and Gustavo Grodnitsky’s book title tells us that “Culture Trumps Everything”,   Recently, Alisa Cohen wrote an article, It’s time to Identify and Reset Your Company’s Culture, and suggested asking the experts : survey your employees. 

Rather than asking everyone to answer generic questions, start with the people most affected by the changed: people experience the greatest changes personally (e.g., they’re working virtually a lot) and collectively (e.g., they collaborate with others and aren’t able to do so in live, face-to-face interactions such as onboarding, brainstorming, meeting, etc.). 

The questions could focus on several issues, including the worker’s:

  • Changed experiential expectations (e.g., for onboarding, group decision-making, being considered for new opportunities) etc.
  • Perception of how it’s affecting the others, including those most and least successful
  • Description of the company in a short phrase (e.g., three or six words phrases)
  • Predictions for how changes might develop positively or negatively in the future.

Collecting the data from a large enough sample of people with different roles and experiences, may allow you to determine where changes in culture are taking place. And if they are, you can now adapt and respond!

If you do this, share your non-confidential results with the rest of us at Presentation Excellence!

How Does Your Leadership Style Impact on Your Company?

How well do we really know our cultures?


For a CEO, it’s important that you have confidence in your vision for the company and decisions. Uncertainty weakens the willingness of some team members to follow initiatives. For this reason, smart CEOs and other leaders seek out information from a diverse group of experts and as well as peer leaders who have experiences that are relevant (e.g., Vistage Worldwide). In addition they build their Emotional Intelligence (EQ) muscles, especially self-awareness.

In the blog post 4 Ways Confident Leadership Helps Everyone, Building Champions shares four benefits leaders get when they are confident and project that confidence to their team:

  • Builds loyalty among team members who want assurance
  • Support confident communications by the team members to others within the company
  • Encourages strategic thinking by providing a foundation for more long-term thinking and planning 
  • Empowers direct reports to follow your lead.

Working with 25,000+ leaders at Vistage, who go beyond their Mastermind Group to engage others on our intranet (MyVistage.com), I see how they build their confidence with frank and timely discussions and then report on the positive results that occurred.


Take the time to build your leadership skills and confidence, so you, too, can have a more significant impact on your leadership team and, in turn, your customers.

Are You Committed to Continuous Improvement?

Is continuous improvement a core value for your company?

Over a decade ago, I was asked by Vistage Worldwide to launch a CEO Peer Advisory group. My objective was to find successful CEOs who wanted even more success – by learning from other members of the group, other Vistage members (there are now 27,.000 In 20 countries), subject matter experts, and me. One of the goals we set for each of our companies was to turn them into CILOs- Continuous Improvement Learning Organizations. 

Over the years, many members sought a better system for holding staff accountable for their jobs and evaluating their success so they could help workers improve in whatever ways the worker and his/her supervisor thought would benefit the employee and the company. That led to the development of the Accountable 4 Success (A4S). The centerpiece is a clear and measurable Job Description with objective metrics which is used to evaluate job performance and culture commitment as needed – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Most important, each area of responsibility includes a section  in which the supervisor and the employee specify an area for improvement, and the ability to measure success.

Carolyn similarly takes individual continuous Improvement to a higher level by linking it to the culture. In Is Your Company’s Culture Relentless about Improvement? She notes that just as companies aren’t satisfied with complacency – they want things done better, cheaper and faster – neither are employees satisfied with the status quo in their job. They want to acquire new skills in order to grow both personally and professionally. She notes that when some employees are improving that sparks ideas for others. The goal isn’t personal achievement or out-performing co-workers; the goal is to elevate human talent so people can contribute more to the company and be rewarded for it.


Does your company already have a CILO culture? If not, what systems are you using to create a relentless culture for continuous improvement? If your system is successful, share it with Presentation Excellence members. If not, feel free to check out Accountable4Success.com and learn more about how you can develop a corporate wide mindset and culture of improvement and growth for all. With all the headwinds to facing companies today, you’ll need peak performance from everyone within a CILO culture to thrive!

What’s Your Company’s Trust Rating?

Trust is earned.  When someone says they “trust” you or your company, they’re telling you that they believe in your truth, reliability, ability or strength to deliver on your claim/promise. It’s the conclusion you reach based on your past history and how you presented it. If you’ve earned trust, then you or your company is likely to outperform your “competitors” over the long-term.

Trust Across America found last year that the stocks of companies deemed more trustworthy have greatly outperformed others. After quantifying the value of trust by looking at 10 stocks of the most trustworthy companies 10 years ago, they discovered that 5 were bought by other companies and the other five gained an average of 868% vs. 278% for the SP 500.  Similarly, the 10 most trustworthy companies from five years ago and three years ago also handily topped the S&P 500.

How would you measure trust?  Studying companies like Microsoft, Nike, Nvidia and Starbucks, they focused on seven traits including:

  • Clarity of corporate purpose, values and culture. Employees know how to practice them, bring strategy to life and have systems in place to support what’s important and values
  • Corporate integrity. Leaders act in respectfully authentic ways, consistent with purpose and values
  • Culture of transparency and truth-telling, even when it hurts
  • Communication within the company as a priority before other stakeholders
  • Belonging – which is more than just diversity and inclusion
  • Focus on relationships vs. transactions, internally and externally
  • CEO serves as Chief Communications Officer to meaningfully connect internally and externally.

How do you measure trust? Which traits do you see most important in building trust among employees, customers and shareholders?  Do you use a Net Promoter Score, is it time for a trustworthiness Score?

Effective Meetings: Are You Unleashing Conversational Capacity?

Running efficient and effective meetings has always been a challenge. Meetings may be needed for group decision-making, but much of the time spent in the meetings is wasted. How do we prevent that?

Craig Weber has been studying the process for years. He notes that poor workplace communication has costly consequences such as:

  • Lower engagement and trust from staff
  • Frustrated employees and friction among team members
  • Reduced profitability and slower growth
  • Low job satisfaction and high turnover.

He then developed a model, called Conversational Capacity, which is “the ability to engage in constructive learning-focused dialogue about difficult subjects, in challenging circumstances, and across tough boundaries.”  

Imagine a meeting in which the leader has made it clear to others in the meeting that she/he is not open to hearing certain things that attack the company and/or the leader.  This stifles candor; it also limits an openness to explore options. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon for many organizations. What’s worse, is that this may not always be conscious: senior executives stay away from certain topics when the leader is present, yet will address them when the leader isn’t present.

Conversational capacity takes place between two extremes: curiosity and candor. You want people to be curious and pose questions in an open atmosphere to explore topics. On the other hand, you want to deliver “radical” candor – which may offend some of the players. The job of the meeting leader is to facilitate the conversation so you get both exploration and candor. 

Sometimes the way to do that is to observe the different culture of meetings when the leader (or another meeting member) is not present. This can be done by rating the meetings with and without key members and uncovering the extent to which conversational capacity was used in some versus others. 

How are you fostering good workplace communication?  Are you monitoring the extent to which everyone at the meeting is sharing their full talents versus holding some back?  Find a way to do so; the most effective meetings have access to the openness to share candor and curiosity.

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