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Putting our culture first

December 2017

Gareth Williams

Blog by Gareth Williams, Chief People Officer, Chief Innovation and Transformation Officer at Travelex

What does it take to set the right company culture from the top?

“The right company culture cascades from the top. There is no silver bullet per se, but ultimately it starts with leadership. This means having a CEO with the right IQ (intellectual capacity) and EQ (emotional intelligence). The secret sauce lies in finding a leader that strike the right balance between the two – bringing the company strategy to life and getting everyone on board.

When it comes to setting the right company culture, no one lever will do the trick. Good leadership means creating a followership. Energy, passion, inspiration, fun and execution are critical. It’s these qualities that separate the good leaders from the great ones.

In London Fintech, there is a desire to bring about meaningful change, to truly affect people’s lives. This means employees want to do more than make other people money. Employees want a sense of purpose, pride and an environment where they can grow - if leaders can’t create those conditions, the culture suffers.”

How do you set an example at the top and manage your internal image?

“To keep myself in check and make sure I’m setting an example, I’ve developed a ‘trusted advisor network’ of no more than five people at peer and subordinate level. The reality is that some days we need someone we trust to tap us on the shoulder and say, “you could have handled that better” or “well done”. Performance management is symbiotic and we spend as much time on how I’m doing as how my employee is.

With social media, there is no distinction. Your external image is also your internal image. Twitter and LinkedIn engagement is higher than internal networks. So, it’s important that my leadership brand and values are consistent internally and externally.”

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