5 Important Qualities of a Chief Culture Officer

As corporate culture continues to evolve, a new, indispensable seat has emerged in the C-suite – the Chief Culture Officer (CCO). Tech giants and international corporations, including Lululemon, Google, and Microsoft, have a CCO whose primary role is to incite a positive and passionate corporate culture. This also includes improving corporate branding, boosting productivity and increasing sales.

The Chief Culture Officer plays a key role in incentivising the workforce by promoting alignment, communication, recognition, and goals. This expert’s primary objective is to analyse and grow or inspire the culture of an organisation or team. The concept of the CCO role emerged many years ago. It was initially established to evolve ideas and strategies on small and large-scale in correspondence with the organisation’s overall vision and goals. This alignment ensures internal teams find emotional fulfilment in their duties and ignites an emotional connection with their team members. This can also influence everything from the tone at the morning huddle to high-level decision-making.

Today, there is an ever-growing emphasis on the role of Chief Culture Officer. As a result, the majority of established corporations and SMEs are beginning to hire people to help create a culture that represents the values of the organisation founders.

What are the Qualities of a good Chief Culture Officer?

Most organisations perceive their culture as a critical foundation for their brand adding a competitive advantage. For instance, think of companies like Google, Southwest Airlines, and giant e-commerce platforms like Amazon. Their corporate cultures usually inspire loyalty, whether internally or externally, and usually serve as a reliable source for competitive advantage. That means culture is an essential component of your brand. If you intend to hire a Chief Culture Officer to represent your brand, make sure they have the following qualities.

1. Share the Company Vision

A company’s CEO could assume the role of a Chief Culture Officer and may have the necessary qualities. However, the CEO is likely too busy to give the CCO role the amount of attention and commitment it deserves. It is better to assign the role of CCO to someone who already aligns themselves with your company’s vision and has the time and passion to deliver. Such a person must understand the company culture even when they don’t express it in so many words.

2. Ability to Lead by Example

The Chief Culture Officer should not only demonstrate the level of leadership the job requires but should also have the qualities to lead by example. Changing the culture of any workforce is extremely challenging and this change needs to start from the top. As employees start to see leaders embracing the cultural change, they are more likely to follow. Driving the right corporate culture requires a change agent that can lead from the front.

3. Capable of Measuring Success

It’s also important to mention that holding the role of Chief Culture Officer is like any other executive-level position. Success is results-driven (even though this can often lead to incorrect behaviours). This means they need to need to how to assess the current state of company culture and measure progress, without impacting the vision for change.

Kununu Engage identifies 7 workplace dimensions on how to measure Company Culture: Communication, Interesting Challenges, Leadership Effectiveness, Team Spirit, Work-Life Balance, Working Conditions, and Work Climate.

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4. Build Trust

Employees cannot embrace your company culture if they are not empowered to act without permission. For this reason, it is crucial to have a Chief Culture Officer who has the quality to trust people. This enables them to execute their duties successfully and work towards the company’s shared vision and goals. This will probably make the CCO’s job very easy over time. It will also form a solid foundation for a strong corporate culture.

5. Pursue Value-Driven Growth

Most organisations often look to a results-driven management approach to get things done, and the corporate culture often falters as a result. Keep in mind that results-driven approaches usually mean a lot of time and other resources are spent micromanaging workers who, in reality, don’t have to be supervised directly.

In such cases, implementing a value-driven growth approach could mean emphasising numbers and values equal in measure. A Chief Culture Officer who doesn’t have the quality to tie these two things together will have bigger problems further down the line.

Summary

Generally, a Chief Culture Officer is someone with an in-depth and honest understanding of what the corporate culture currently is and a clear direction of where it needs to go. He or she is responsible for creating and managing a culture that creates positivity in the workplace and generally drives innovation. Having a Chief Culture Officer with the five qualities mentioned will support the alignment of your company to its vision and goals providing the greatest potential for success.

Written by Jakob Lindvall

Combining his love for AI technology, passion for idea management, and 15+ years of experience as CEO of various companies, Jakob oversees the business planning, and strategic direction for the company.

January 11, 2021

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