“Move fast and break things.”

That’s the motto that Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg had (now infamously) communicated internally and externally, intended to articulate both the pace and pulse of the company.

Now the company has graduated to a different mantra for its developers: “move fast with stable infra.”

It begs the question: is this seemingly more mature mantra a believable message about the company’s culture?

I won’t attempt to answer that question, but it reminded me of some of the major messages around culture from our recent executive leadership training at Aileron in Tipp City, Ohio.

Here are 2 takeaways from Aileron about intentionally building and cultivating purpose-driven culture in an organization.

1. Culture is always a reflection of the values of a company’s leaders.

When we ask ourselves what the actual values and beliefs of a company are—as shown by the real behavior of those at the company—that’s how we can start to get a clear definition of our organization’s current, actual culture. And when we do, as leaders, we can’t just look at the beliefs and behaviors of those around us, or those who came before us.

Our value as a leader may just be in proportion to our own personal values.

We all know how important it is to “walk the walk,” since our behavior is always being evaluated by those around us. An extension of this is that culture starts, and is built around, the values and core beliefs of leaders in a company.

Culture starts with a leaders' values
A message from Aileron.

Furthermore, as leaders, if we allow a certain behavior to continue at our company, we actually encourage that kind of behavior (and belief system) within our organization. While the culture always starts with the leader, it’s also further influenced when we allow those other beliefs to happen around us on a day-to-day basis.

2. A company’s culture is by design, or by default.

A company’s culture is no accident (even if we haven’t seen it in a strategic capacity up until now). It’s not only a reflection of a leader’s values, but it’s a reflection of hundreds of decisions and reinforced behaviors over time.

Despite this, it’s never too soon to change or build your culture with intention.

As leaders, here are starter questions we should ask ourselves:

  • What are management’s values and how are they put into practice?
  • What does it take to get promoted?
  • How do employees get rewarded?
  • How do employees get punished?
  • How do you learn what is happening at the company?
  • Who do you value most, and why?
  • What behavior is allowed here? (After all—that means it is encouraged.)

Culture change may take as much as one year for every year of significant level or layer that exists within an organization.

So how can we start the process?

Three examples of how we can begin to shape culture include:

  • Publishing values or your purpose statement—one that employees helped craft;
  • Share realities of company—the good and the ugly, as well as where you want to be in the future (the vision);
  • Create new stories and celebrate wins (employees to clients) outwardly.

These are just a few ways to start shifting your culture, helping you to make your company be a place that’s attractive to the kind of workers you will want to bring in months—or even years—into the future.

While I do not know if Facebook’s new motto is on-strategy or if it is helping further harness culture, it provides an example of how we can evolve as a company over time. It shows how communication (internally and externally), is certainly a part of that process.

Know any other companies with well-known mantras or purpose statements? Let us know here or on Twitter.

READ MORE: If you like this article you will want to read “The ‘Team’ Company Wins

This blog was written by Kim Sykes
Kim Sykes

Kim Sykes is a marketer and content creator at Edoc Service, Inc., a total virtual company.