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What Every Business Owner Needs to Know About Leadership and Culture

Baseball Team Win

                                                                            Photo by Jack Young on Unsplash

A Foundational Concept

In the dynamic world of business, leadership and culture are the twin pillars that can make or break a company. The old adage "Companies rise and fall on leadership" holds true now more than ever. There are so many work options today that people will simply not put up with leaders that don’t care about them or try to dominate their lives for the sake of their own success. Effective leadership and a strong, positive culture are not just beneficial—they are essential for long-term success. Also, in my opinion, they are the most fulfilling. 

This blog will explain why these elements are crucial and provide practical steps that will help you establish and cultivate them within your organization so that you can see sustainable success for years to come. 

Companies Rise and Fall on Leadership

Leadership is the cornerstone of any successful business. A company with visionary, strong and empathetic leaders can navigate through challenges, innovate, inspire its workforce, and create win-win situations for everyone involved. 

On the other hand, poor leadership can lead to organizational stagnation, low employee morale, and ultimately, business failure.

I used to be a baseball player and coach so I like to use sports analogies when it comes to leadership in business because the same principles apply. Business is a team sport just like baseball. There is an Owner, General Manager, Manager, Coaches, Support Staff and Players. If everyone is not doing their part then everyone will fail. However, it all starts at the top with great leadership. 

Vision and Direction

How do you think this line would go over with a baseball team at the beginning of the year? 

“Men, I’m the coach, you are the players. I want to win but I don’t have time or resources to lead or coach you but you need to figure it out anyways! Then, if we don’t win then I’ll get some other players in here who will help me win.”

I think you would see a lot of upset players and of course bad results. So, why do we think this approach is appropriate and will work in business? Now, it may work for a time because most people are just interested in a paycheck. However, with most people leadership and culture means more than a paycheck and people will start to “quietly quit.”

For example, I recently heard a business owner, who was asked about what kind of culture he has in his business, say “We don’t have a culture. My employees do their job and I give them a paycheck, that’s it!” Wow, what an inspiring work environment. I’m not sure of the success of the business but even if it is a solid business now it will most likely never be great. Unfortunately, this approach is far too common among leaders today in sports and business. 

A good leader sets a clear vision and direction for the company with passion and empathy. They communicate the mission, goals, and values effectively, ensuring everyone is aligned and working towards the same objectives. This clarity helps in making informed decisions when the competition gets fierce or the team takes some short-term losses. If vision and direction is done well then all these other points really don’t matter.


Just like good baseball managers and coaches, effective leaders are decisive and capable of making tough decisions. If they don’t work out, they take responsibility for them. Good leaders analyze situations, consider various perspectives, and make choices that are in the best interest of the company. 

Their ability to make sound decisions quickly can prevent crises and capitalize on opportunities. They know the situation and make the best decision in the time frame that they have with their team. It’s never an isolated situation. However, only one person can make the final decision based on all the information that their staff has provided. It’s a heavy weight to carry so that’s why team support is so critical. 

Inspiration and Motivation 

Whether in sports or business, great leaders inspire and motivate their teams. However, more importantly they lead by example and don’t just give great speeches. Demonstrating commitment, integrity, and passion says far more than a great speech ever will! 

This approach builds trust, establishes purpose and demonstrates dedication to employees, driving them to also perform at their best. When the leader goes “all in” then the team most likely will follow. You will not have to try and convince people that the mission is worth it or not. They will see it in your eyes and your actions. 


Just like the course of a baseball game, the business environment can change quickly and drastically. So, leaders must be adaptable. 

They should be open to new ideas, willing to pivot strategies when necessary, and have a short memory when they or the company fails, in some way. This type of flexibility ensures that the company will remain competitive and responsive to market shifts. Not only that it will give your team confidence that they will get through the hard times and learn from their mistakes to get stronger for the future.



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Every Business Has a Culture

Every business has a culture, whether they think you do or not. Culture is the lifeblood of an organization. It encompasses the values, beliefs, behaviors, and practices that define how employees interact and work together. 

A strong, positive culture can enhance employee satisfaction, productivity, and loyalty, while a toxic culture can lead to high turnover, disengagement, and reputation damage.

Going back to the business owner example. He wasn’t concerned with the culture of his business but that doesn’t mean that he doesn't have a culture in his business. Culture is a lot like planning. Many people don’t like to do either of them so they typically get pushed down the priority list or not done at all. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. Unfortunately, they do exist whether they get the proper attention or not. 

So, here are four ways to establish a winning and supportive culture in your organization.

  1. Invest in Your Employees: A positive culture fosters high levels of employee support and engagement. When employees feel valued, respected, and aligned with the company’s values, they are more likely to be motivated, productive, and committed to their work. Engaged employees also tend to stay longer with the company, reducing turnover and the costs associated with it. Don’t think this has to cost a lot of money either. The bottom line is people want to be valued, cared for and listened to. By the way, your customers do too. So, model this well and they will do the same.
  2. Promote Collaboration and Innovation: A culture that promotes collaboration and open communication encourages innovation. Just like I mentioned in the first point, when employees feel safe to share ideas and take risks, creativity flourishes. In other words, their “voice” is truly heard and considered. This collaborative environment can lead to employee inspiration and the development of new products, services, and processes that drive the company forward so that you can keep winning in a competitive business environment.
  3. Attract Top Talent: A strong culture is a magnet for top talent. The best players want to play for the best teams. The same applies to businesses. Job seekers are increasingly looking for employers whose values align with their own. Companies with a positive, inclusive, and dynamic culture are more likely to attract and retain high-caliber employees who can contribute to long-term success. So, share your expectations with new candidates and allow them to rise to the top so that they will continue to help your team win.
  4. Ask Your Customers: Developed and engaged employees are more likely to provide excellent customer service. When employees feel good about their workplace, this positive energy translates into better interactions with customers, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty. I’ve said this before in a previous blog. 

Your customers will know it if your employees are not happy or at least valued. Even if they don’t say anything to your customers the lack of genuine enthusiasm will simply not be there during their experience with your business. This will have a damaging long-term effect on your business. So, ask for feedback and really listen to them. After all, people vote with their dollars so you don’t want to wait on that kind of feedback.


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Business Is More Than Just Making Money

Business is more than just making money, or at least it should be. While profitability is crucial, it should not be the sole focus. It’s also about creating purpose driven relationships with both employees and customers. After all, people want to work for and with people they trust to have the team’s best interest at heart. 

This doesn’t mean you “cater” to everyone’s specific needs. Quite the opposite, you need to foster a sense of teamwork. However, the team will not be properly formed unless everyone knows that the leader and their teammates really care or at least respect each other to work as hard as they can to help the team win.

For example, invest in proper training for your managers to help them understand the personal and professional goals of their team members and how to connect those to their current roles. Also, develop a feedback workflow so that you can monitor and support them with your business decisions. This will create win-win situations and develop strong, caring, and respectful business relationships.

Leaders who understand this and do this well are better equipped to create a positive impact both inside and outside their organization. They will also create a sustainable business because they prioritize people and purpose. Even better, at the end of your life you will see that you had a much greater impact in people’s lives because you chose to focus on leadership and culture over the “All-Mighty” dollar. 

Your Turn

I hope you see that leadership and culture are inextricably linked and so very important. Effective leadership cultivates a positive culture, and a strong culture, in turn, supports and amplifies effective leadership. As a business owner, investing time and resources into developing these aspects can yield significant returns in terms of employee engagement, innovation, and long-term success.

Remember, companies rise and fall on leadership. Every business has a culture, whether they  are intentional in building it or not. Also, business is more than just making money—it’s about creating a lasting impact in people’s lives.

How will you define a clear vision, lead by example, foster open communication, invest in your people, and encourage teamwork? 

Don’t settle for just transactional leadership. Be a leader who creates a thriving culture of trust and respectful relationships and watch your people and your business thrive. 

Enjoy the process!

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