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5 Books to Inspire Changes to Company Culture

If your company ran for a political office, what would it stand for? Every day, your company and its myriad collection of teams and departments is grasping for new constituents, whether they’re employees, customers, partners, or vendors.

Just like a traditional electoral race, your company’s constituents will pay attention to the words you say, the values you promote, and the lengths you’ll go to support them.

You may not like it, but your company is always on the campaign trail. Outsiders and potential insiders will use a variety of measures to determine if they’ll give you their vote in the form of a product purchase, an accepted job offer, a signed partnership agreement, or even a follow on Instagram or whatever social platform your company prioritizes.

But how does your company obtain the votes it needs to succeed in the business arena? It constructs a company culture with the ability to attract the most relevant coalitions of “voters.” Your company runs on a platform, which describes your stance in the marketplace through how you approach several aspects of your operation:

  • Your hiring process
  • Your marketing campaigns
  • Your client and customer service
  • Your office infrastructure
  • Your company policies regarding dress code and business hours, among others
  • And more

Does your company need to undergo a culture change?

I’ve always been a bit confused by the phrase “culture change.” It’s not the independent words that cause confusion, but rather the phrase in its entirety.

Isn’t culture inherent? Isn’t it a product of putting several people in one building and instructing them to strive towards a common goal? Maybe it’s silly to believe culture springs from the heads of your staff like Medusa’s snakes.

But the thought does bring up a slightly discomforting question: If we all don’t individually create company culture, then who does?

Leadership Essentials has a robust selection of books that guide professionals towards creating a positive and intentional company culture. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

5 Books to Inspire Changes to Company Culture

1. Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates

Author(s): Karin Hurt and David Dye

“People have ideas. Leaders want to hear them. But somewhere it breaks down.” - Karin Hurt and David Dye

Independent research and many years of consulting businesses on how to improve their cultures form the basis for this book from dynamic writing duo, Karin Hurt and David Dye. In a follow up to their 2018 hit, Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results---Without Losing Your Soul, Courageous Cultures helps managers and executives promote an environment where employees feel safe to “speak up, speak truth, solve problems, and hold each other accountable” as Kev Mitchell, Chief Operations Officer at Kforce said. With proven models and practical exercises, the authors deliver a road map towards creating a culture where pushback is encouraged, half-baked ideas are welcomed, and requests for change when change will create a better product or service are not only desired, but required to be a productive asset to the business. Find the formula for inspiring employees to develop their voice and carry their ideas into execution in Courageous Cultures.

Read an excerpt from Courageous Cultures here. 

9781400219544
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2. Insider’s Guide to Culture Change: Creating a Workplace That Delivers, Grows, and Adapts

Author: Siobhan McHale

“Every culture, good, bad, or exceptional, exerts tremendous power in the workplace.” - Siobhan McHale

We all understand how closely associated a company’s culture is with its overall performance. But research reveals that nearly 70% of all initiatives to create a change in culture fail to deliver the expected benefits. There are many books about culture change, but none provide as comprehensive of an assessment on your current company culture as the Insider’s Guide to Culture Change. With this book, you’ll be inspired to help your teammates reframe their roles within your company and break through deeply embedded patterns to ultimately change the collective mindset at your place of work. If you’ve ever known that something needs to change in your workplace, but weren’t sure where to start, this is the book to ignite your fire. McHale includes guidance on…

  • Making a compelling case for change,
  • Getting past middle management,
  • Tailoring workspace to fit culture, and
  • Measuring your progress so everyone sees the value in your efforts

Read an excerpt from Insider’s Guide to Culture Change here.  

9781400219544
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Extreme Teams: Why Pixar, Netflix, Airbnb, and Other Cutting-Edge Companies Succeed Where Most Fail

Author: Robert Bruce Shaw

“Teams, without question, provide a competitive advantage when they operate well.” - Robert Bruce Shaw

There’s no better way to improve your company’s culture than learning from those who are already attracting and retaining top talent because of theirs. New generations expect different benefits from their employers and these expectations are drastically changing the way companies operate. In Extreme Teams, Robert Bruce Shaw acts as Sherlock Holmes and uncovers the unique cultural aspects of innovative businesses including Pixar, Netflix, Airbnb, Whole Foods, and Zappos. Gain an understanding of the decisions leaders made to ensure these companies would earn a reputation for being among the best places to work. Whether they’re prioritizing constant feedback (Pixar) or embracing hard metrics and friendly competition (Whole Foods), Shaw explores how everything from the structural makeup of teams to the principles guiding them reflects company culture.

9781400219544

$13.98

Lead Right for Your Company’s Type: How to Connect Your Culture with Your Customer Promise

Author: William Schneider

“The promise that you make to your customer, your culture of employees, and your leadership approach are immutably intertwined.” - William Schneider

Are you one of those people who thinks “company culture” is fake news? Ok, maybe you know it’s a real concept, but you’ve never been convinced your organization could make more money from creating a positive one. If this is you and that is how you think, Lead Right for Your Company’s Type is a must-read. What I love about this book is that it positions the culture change issue as a chicken and the egg scenario. Which comes first… your company’s culture or its customer promise? Schneider says culture “is driven by the nature of your business and what it takes for you to succeed in your marketplace.” First, Schneider proposes four categories that every enterprise falls into, depending on the promise it levies upon customers. Does your company promise customization, predictability and dependability, benevolence, or quality? Then, he identifies a five-step process to help you diagnose your organization’s shortcomings and stop them at their source to form a stronger cultural foundation.

9781400219544

$13.98

The Optimistic Workplace: Creating an Environment That Energizes Everyone

Author: Shawn Murphy

“Work is personal, and it needs to be a contribution to people’s lives.” - Shawn Murphy


Calling all managers who believe they’re good for more than managing... The Optimistic Workplace was written specifically for you! In his manifesto for optimism at work, Murphy explains that the role of a manager is not one of command and control. Rather, managers “create an environment that positions people to do their best work and also become better human beings.” Written from the perspective of someone who has worked in or conducted analysis on both stressful and successful company cultures, Murphy explores how a people-centric focus among managers (the closest connection between the CEO and staff) is capable of igniting employee potential, increasing innovation, and catapulting organization to new levels of performance. I’m personally stoked about Murphy’s Optimism Planner, which delivers a 90-day plan for creating an optimistic workplace and covers planning, implementation, and monitoring of the initiative.

9781400219544

$12.48

Gabrielle Reed

Editor of HarperCollins Leadership Essentials.

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