Got Culture?

Got Culture?

By Cleve Gaddis


Somebody asked me recently if I had culture. “I think so,” I responded, before thinking to myself that I had learned manners as a child, which, in my mind, meant I had culture. I grew up in the South. My mom taught me how to behave in all social situations. She especially wanted me to be comfortable around people who had “class.” I know which fork or spoon to use, regardless of how many are on the table. I also know how to address a letter to someone in an influential position. So I must have culture, I thought.


I wanted to find out why I connected culture with manners, so I looked up the meaning of culture and found that it is a word for the “way of life” of groups of people—aka, the way they do things. I guess it makes sense then why culture and manners are synonyms to me. My mom thought I needed to behave well, and that was a “way of life” for my family.


This matters greatly in real estate. What is your team’s culture? In other words, what is your team’s way of life? Most organizations have core values, but having them isn’t enough to create culture. Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a team. They are the guiding principles that mandate appropriate behavior and help team members internalize and understand the difference between right and wrong.


Below are four steps to creating culture through core values:


1. Core values are internal to the team. They are not to be used in marketing or otherwise displayed to the public. Keeping them internal helps create a sense of belonging and a feeling of having a “secret sauce” that is unique to the team.


2. Core values must be used. It’s not enough for the team leader to recite core values and expect everyone to behave accordingly. Involve team members in sharing what each core value means to them, as everyone perceives things differently. The only way to ensure all team members are on the same page is to understand everyone’s perceptions and discuss and debate until everyone understands completely.


3. Core values should create clear accountability. Team members should be encouraged to call out others who aren’t behaving according to expectations. Hiring and firing decisions should be made based on core values.


4. Core values should change over time. The world is continually evolving, and people’s expectations of how we should interact and serve people change, too. Your team should revisit its core values on an annual basis and start over from scratch, if necessary, in order to stay current in an evolving way of life.


If you need help establishing core values, email and I will send you some examples.

Cleve Gaddis is a master coach, speaker and trainer with 
Workman Success Systems. He works with some of America’s most profitable teams and specializes in helping family-owned brokerages and teams successfully meet their unique challenges. Gaddis hosts the Your Move Atlanta weekly radio show on 640 AM, a Fox News station on iHeartRadio. He learned sales the hard way, by selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. To have Gaddis speak live to your company, team or group, connect with him at

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