There are two parts to culture: people and systems. On the people side, consider a “Empathy Accountability Continuum.” Empathy is at one end of the spectrum and accountability at the other.

Then, based on who you are dealing with and the context of the conversation, figure out where you need to be on that continuum. The more you get to know someone, the easier it becomes to choose the right moment in time to lean toward either empathy or accountability.

How do you know where to land on the scale? Be curious about the people on your team as well as people in the world around you. Ask what they are doing and how they are doing it.

A big part of maintaining curiosity and understanding also comes from being calm and connected. You can’t have a connection with your people unless you are calm. It’s part of being a leader within your organization.

To that effect, you need to be able to lead yourself and know where you are on the Empathy Accountability Continuum.

We can’t lead others unless we can lead ourselves. So, we have to understand our own fears and concerns. Then it becomes easier to make those connections.

On the systems side of things, you have to “discover the core”: your core purpose and core values, which tell you what is important to you and your business. As part of that, you also need to document the future. Plan, strategize and put it into writing. Where are you going? What is your vision? What is your BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal)? What is your 10-year obsession?

Once you plan and put your future into writing, you have to execute relentlessly. This is how you make sure you get there. Live your system – use daily rituals like huddles and make sure they are useful. You should be constantly talking about your core values and goals.

A big part of building a strong culture, you need a robust recruiting process. Find the right people and keep them engaged. Have a multi-step and multi-person process when hiring and use a scorecard (a very detailed job description) when recruiting.

When you bring it all together – people and systems – be sure to show more love. Make sure there is peer recognition and recognition from leadership on a regular basis. Send them cards on their anniversary or birthday. Even have a budget for when bad stuff happens in people’s lives.


Written by Tristan White:

Tristan White is the founder and CEO of The Physio Co, a unique health care company based in Australia.
While he’s led The Physio Co, the company has been ranked one of Australia’s 50 Best Places To Work for 11 consecutive years. In building this fast-growing company, White authored the book Culture Is Everything and started a podcast, Think Big Act Small. Learn more at