Corporate culture starts at the top

A business owner tells this tale of woe:

“I’m a woman in a male-dominated industry. When I was an employee, I could roll as one of the guys. Now I own a company, and an unpleasant bro culture has emerged here. I can’t hang with the guys (I’m the boss, after all), but I also can’t seem to influence their behavior. What do I do?”

Answer: When you’re “one of the guys,” you’re fitting in, which is the opposite of leading. You need people to follow you. You must create a place where others want to fit in. To do that, you need a code of conduct so that employees stop making their own rules.

First, identify three or four core values for how your company and employees will behave. Second, identify specific actions they can take to express those values Third, let go of anyone who doesn’t buy in. Finally, keep working to build on your culture of respect.

Tip: Find a peer group to hang out with. You’re not one of the guys anymore. You’re one of the CEOs.

— Adapted from “When the leader isn’t followed,” Gael O’Brien, Entrepreneur.