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Be the Culture You Seek In and Out of the Workplace

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

I recently received a powerful email from a recent client. She was updating me on all the good things that happened to her since we last worked together: how much more involved she is, how she is creating more, her landing an ideal position within an ideal institute and location and all the lessons she learned or applied from our engagement. I loved her update, as I love all the updates I receive from former clients, however, there was one particular thing she said that I thought was truly amazing. I share it here as I cannot do it justice by paraphrasing it (with permission of course):

I want to keep to this mindset that nothing is forever and to keep growing and looking for ways to improve. I want to bring with me all these new lessons and try not to stagnate in time. Now that I will be FT I can aim to try and make the role also what I want and maybe bring things into the space that bring me positivity, like plants. I also want to keep trying to be the change I want to see rather than trying to search for that in others. This way I fuel my own positivity and hopefully spread it to the others. Bring the culture to them!

What I love about it is that she is no longer waiting for others to make her happy but is going to do that for herself: an active stance versus a passive one. She realizes that for the best way for change to happen is being the change first (thank you, Gandhi, for the sentiment). Model what you desire and see what changes come from it.

The other aspect I love about what she said is her point about culture. Typically when we think of culture we think of more than one person, however, we know that one bad apple can affect a workplace culture so why not a good or positive one? I know Gary Vaynerchuk is vigilant about keeping bad apples out of his company. He knows the importance of positive workplace morale and culture and even hired a Chief Heart Officer three years ago to address employees’ needs, challenges and desires. [1]

I experienced a negative, competitive culture at a private school I worked at and it was soul-sucking. I believe it started from the top-down, as it can go both ways. Usually, however, it starts with leadership and seeps throughout. Thankfully, I met some solid colleagues and we had our own sub-culture of cooperation and acceptance within the overall dynamic.

Did I provide feedback and model the culture I was seeking? I sure did, however, some habits and organizational structures are hard to die.

Culture does not have to be relegated to the workplace. The culture you have at home and within social circles are just as important, if not more. Here too you can be the culture you seek.

Here are some seasonal suggestions, since I am inspired by our warmer weather, to get you started at work or at home:

  • Lighten up the space by bringing flowers or plants as my former client suggests.

  • Organize a staff or family barbecue or picnic.

  • Start a new fun project if the load is light (I am thinking summer lulls) and collaborate on it

  • initiate a social after work with colleagues or family or both! :) .

  • Let off steam with an outdoor water fight (if possible).

Whatever you do, I hope you do not wait for others to do it for you. Yes, there are certain top-down realities that can affect you in a workplace setting and possibly a home, however, what can you do to address it? What gestures or ideas can you bring to positively contribute? How can you be the change or culture you seek?


[1]Vaynerchuk, G. The Ambition of a Human Based Company. Retrieved July 25, 2019, from

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