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October 2019
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TD Magazine

The Recipe for a Great Culture

Coaches Need Coaches, Too Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth

By Dee Ann Turner
Baker Publishing Group, 224 pp., $16.09

This book describes the author’s professional journey at Chick-fil-A through stories and principles and presents readers with the elements of a remarkable culture. Turner, who served most recently as vice president of talent and sustainability before retiring, explains that the essence of a remarkable culture is viewing customers as guests in your home. The most important people in the organization are the individuals it serves, one person at a time. Turner refers to the organizational culture as not just working together but living life together—a group that celebrates, grieves, and grows together.

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Creating an exceptional culture starts at the top. Turner explains that to develop such a culture, start with why (the company’s clear and meaningful purpose), then add what (company mission) and how (core values such as excellence; generosity; and treating others with honor, dignity, and respect).

The author continues her argument, focusing on the who—the people who carry out the organization’s purpose and mission. “People decisions” are the most critical decisions a leader makes; they can make or break the culture and the company, Turner notes. As she puts it, “It’s high risk when you make the wrong decision, but it’s high reward when you make the right one.” Therefore, selecting and growing great talent and coaching that talent to preserve and strengthen a remarkable culture are paramount.

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I like her distinction between hiring for vacant roles (quantity) and selecting talent (quality) to grow the leadership bench and prepare for the future. In the process of selecting the right people, Turner emphasizes her core principles of selecting talent for character, competence, and chemistry. In addition to a strong selection process, she highlights the importance of effective onboarding processes as well as talent sustainment and leadership stewarding programs.

This book challenged me to be a role model and influencer for the people in my organization. It made me pause for a moment to reflect on how much I align to my company’s mission and vision and how much my daily work creates a remarkable or a toxic culture. As a leader in the talent development field, that reflective moment reenergized and inspired me to recognize the tremendous responsibility I have not only to lead but also to serve those I lead by facilitating development opportunities, cultivating a spirit of commitment instead of compliance, fostering people’s dreams, and investing in mentoring.

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About the Author

Simona Vidican, CPLP, is the director of education and development at Cleveland Clinic.

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