Joe Tye, CEO and Head Coach, Values Coach Inc.

Joe TyeJoe Tye is CEO and Head Coach of Values Coach Inc., a company devoted to helping organizations build a more positive and resilient culture of ownership. He is the author or coauthor of 15 books on personal and organizational success, including All Hands on Deck: 8 Essential Lessons for Building a Culture of Ownership, The Florence Prescription: From Accountability to Ownership (with more than 500,000 copies in circulation), and the award-winning Building a Culture of Ownership in Healthcare (with Bob Dent). His most recent book, also with Bob Dent, is The Heart of a Nurse Leader: Values-Based Leadership for Healthcare Organizations.

What does organizational culture mean to you?

I think of culture as being the personality and the character of an organization. Culture, more than products or services, is what differentiates an organization from competitors, both in the minds of customers and of employees.

What are the major determinants of organizational culture?

Culture is shaped by what leadership expects and what it tolerates, and over time what leaders tolerate will dominate what they say they expect. So two key determinants are 1) clarity of values and how those values are reflected in employee attitudes and behaviors, and 2) leadership effectiveness in inspiring people to live those values and to not tolerate attitudes and behaviors that violate those values

What is the role of employees in organizational culture?

In The Florence Challenge ( we define a Culture of Ownership as one where people are emotionally positive, self-empowered, and fully engaged. A positive culture depends upon people bringing a positive attitude to work and treating coworkers with respect; taking the initiative to do the right thing rather than making the excuses of learned helplessness, and being committed to their professions and proud of their organizations.

What are the common problems associated with managing organizational culture?

Back in the 1990s, the management buzzword of the day was “empowerment,” but we don’t hear that much anymore. Today the most common buzzword is “accountability.” It is as if leaders tried to empower people but it didn’t work, so now they are going to crack the whip and hold their feet to the fire (the most common metaphors for “accountability” are forms of medieval torture). A culture of accountability focuses on the past (people can only be held accountable for what they have or have not done), sets a low bar for performance (people can only be held accountable for what is in their job description, not for going above and beyond, and it is almost always perceived as being punitive (when a manager says “I’m going to hold you accountable” that is never taken as a compliment, and the underlying message is always “because I can’t trust you to hold yourself to that standard”). In a Culture of Ownership, you do not have to hold people’s feet to the fire because they are willing to walk across hot coals on their own.

What are the ways to innovate company culture? Any best practices to share.

One of the most powerful methods we use with our Values Coach clients is a train-the-trainer program for our course on The Twelve Core Action Values, a 60-module course on the values-based life and leadership skills. The client organization’s Certified Values Coach Trainers then share the course with everyone in the organization, and it becomes an integral element of new employee orientation. While most people intuitively have good values, very few of us have specifically defined what those values are, much less how they are reflected in their work and in their relationships. Being clear about shared personal values enhances communication, creativity, and commitment. Organizational values define strategies, but personal values shape culture. And as the great management philosopher Peter Drucker told us, culture eats strategy for lunch.

Do you want to recommend anyone for a Toptalk interview?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *