Cultivating Excellence: Investing Intentionally in Organizational Culture

How organizations can intentionally define, activate, and reinforce a values-based culture that drives competitive advantage.
A businesswoman looking away and smiling while thinking about investing intentionally in organizational culture

The modern HR department would be unrecognizable to an HR professional transplanted from 20 or even 10 years ago, when HR was primarily centered on personnel management, compliance, and administration.


Now, the HR department stands as a central strategic force, propelling the success of organizations. This shift is reflected in HR leaders’ job titles evolving to match their new responsibilities as Chief People and Culture Officers.


This isn’t merely a cosmetic change. It signals a transformation in how organizations perceive and prioritize their most valuable asset: their people.


Why the Shift?


An organization’s success is intrinsically tied to the culture it fosters. It's no longer about managing personnel; it's about intentionally crafting a workplace culture that propels the organization forward.


Today’s employees are discerning. They seek more than just a job; they want a work environment that aligns with their values. Organizations vying for top talent increasingly realize that a positive culture is a powerful magnet for attracting and retaining the best and brightest.


Further, organizations with a strong and intentional culture benefit from greater employee engagement, stronger innovation, and better financial outcomes.


Shaping a Values-Based Culture


Organizational culture is proving to be a key competitive advantage – that’s why it can’t be left to chance. Savvy companies are getting intentional about defining and shaping their workplace culture. Here’s how they do it:


  1. Define your values. What does your organization care about? Identify the 3-5 core values that form the foundation for your desired culture, whether that’s integrity, innovation, accountability, customer centricity, or something else. Define what these mean in practice – what does “integrity” look like to your people, your leaders, and your customers?
  2. Connect values to mindsets and behaviors. What mindsets and observable behaviors reinforce your values? For instance, if innovation is a core value, you'll want to encourage creative thinking, continuous improvement, and willingness to take risks. Leaders should epitomize those attitudes and demonstrate them through their actions.
  3. Demonstrate leadership commitment. Leaders determine a large part of company culture. Every manager and executive needs to walk the talk when it comes to cultural values. That means orienting their decisions, communications, and interactions to bring the values to life. Leaders should be trained on exhibiting behaviors aligned with the desired culture.
  4. Align systems and processes. Ensure your talent processes encourage your values. For example, if collaboration is a value, then performance systems should include assessment of teamwork. Compensation could tie rewards to peer feedback. Embedding values into systems reinforces them.


Companies with clearly defined, values-based cultures have been shown to have much higher revenue growth, innovation, and employee retention. Turn your culture into a competitive advantage with an intentional, comprehensive process for defining, activating, and reinforcing your core values from leaders down through the entire organization.


Learn more about how LHH works with organizations to assess and then redefine their corporate cultures.


Mehrdad Derayeh, Ph.D. is the author of this article with over 20 years of experience helping organizations succeed through talent management, leadership development, and culture transformation. He serves as a trusted advisor guiding companies to build high-performing and future-ready workforces.