Bean Bag Chairs, Leadership, and the True Meaning of Corporate Culture

Bean Bag Chairs, Leadership, and the True Meaning of Corporate Culture

Anyone who has worked in an office in the last decade and a half should be rightly sick of the word CULTURE by now. 

It is the word that has inexplicably become synonymous with bean bag chairs, office birthdays, and pizza parties and though those things may be novel in the workplace, they do not define culture. 

Culture is, at its heart, an amalgam of the everyday actions of your staff. 

It is a visible, tangible thing that can be seen and felt everyday by your people, regardless of what is written on your mission statement or daubed on the walls of your head office. 

Therefore, it is not enough that you preach a good game, you have to act it out as well, from the top down; day after day. 

Employees will embrace or abandon an organisation based on their relationship with their manager and so it is paramount that your business has the right leadership team in place who they can trust to embody a positive workplace culture. If your managers and executives are immodest and self-centred, then, unfortunately, so is your culture. 

If your leaders say one thing and do another, then you will inevitably foster a culture of insincerity and eventually, mistrust.

The Corporate World no longer wants managers who only talk the talk. 

A recent study found that the best indicator of job satisfaction is someone’s interpersonal relationships at work. This sense of contentment is overwhelmingly driven by their relationship with management (86% compared to 14% for relationships with co-workers).

With this in mind, it has never been more important to select the right type of people to fill your lower, middle, and upper management positions

So what do the ‘right’ people look like?

I contend that effective leadership necessitates a collaborative, innovative and inclusive approach and this, in turn, defines company culture. 


I will elucidate three key reasons why choosing the right people to lead will define how good, or bad, your company culture will be in the long run. 

Fostering a Positive Organisational Culture

Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping organisational culture. A self-centred leader often focuses solely on their personal ambitions, neglecting the needs and aspirations of their team members. This approach creates an environment of competition, mistrust, and disengagement, hindering teamwork and stifling innovation. 

Conversely, leaders who prioritise empathy and collaboration foster a positive organisational culture characterised by trust, cooperation, and open communication. By valuing the contributions and well-being of team members, they create a sense of belonging and commitment that enhances overall organisational performance. 

Please note, that if you hire the first type of leader, based solely on their ability to sell themselves in a job interview, then no amount of managerial training will overcome their innate selfishness.

Leveraging Diverse Perspectives 

Successful leaders recognise the value of diverse perspectives. They have the self-awareness to acknowledge what they don’t know and seek help and support from those around them. Self-centeredness can blind leaders to alternative viewpoints and stifle the voices of others within the organisation. 

On the other hand, leaders who embrace collaboration and inclusivity actively seek out diverse perspectives, leveraging the collective wisdom of their team. By encouraging open dialogue and active participation, these leaders foster an environment where new ideas can flourish, innovation can thrive, and strategic decisions are enriched through multiple lenses. 

The result is a more comprehensive and well-informed decision-making process that benefits the entire organisation. 

Nurturing Emotional Intelligence and Empathy 

Effective leadership requires emotional intelligence and empathy, allowing leaders to understand and connect with their team members on a deeper level. Self-centred leaders, driven by their own ambitions, often struggle to cultivate these essential qualities. 

In contrast, leaders who prioritise collaboration develop strong emotional intelligence and empathy, enabling them to relate to and support their team members. This fosters a sense of trust, respect, and loyalty within the organisation, leading to higher employee satisfaction, increased motivation, and improved overall performance. 

To make a long story even longer; leaders who prioritise collaboration, empathy, and collective decision-making foster a more positive organisational culture, leverage diverse perspectives, and nurture emotional intelligence. While self-centred leaders may exhibit some individual advantages and talk a good game, the long-term success of an organisation hinges on the ability to harness the collective potential of its members. 

By embracing a collaborative approach, leaders empower their teams, create a sense of belonging, and unleash the collective creativity necessary to overcome challenges and thrive in today's dynamic business landscape.

Culture is defined and embodied by the company leadership first and foremost. It is manifested by managers who care for and inspire their charges to be the best versions of themselves.


It is a symbiotic relationship between colleagues based on respect and trust, and has nothing to do with remembering birthdays and awkward, cringeworthy renditions of happy birthday by half-hearted staff. 

If you choose the best people to model the right behaviours from the top down, your culture will look after itself (and you’ll save a fortune on bean bag chairs and pizza parties). 

 Conall Horgan

At Talent Prospecting, we are experts in helping organisations identify, reward and retain their top talents. If you are interested in partnering with us, please visit our website and book a free consultation

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