Thinking Like a Leader
Illustration by Petra Stefankova

Understanding your company


From:

Thinking Like a Leader

with Dave Crenshaw

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Video: Understanding your company

When it comes to developing savvy, understanding is a powerful word. For your career, the most important thing to understand is the company that you're working in. Your company has a unique personality, regardless of industry, size, or how long it's been in business. Understand this personality and you can speak its language, adapt to change when it happens, and be able to anticipate what is needed without being told. Your education may have prepared you for your career, but it likely didn't show you how to best meet your company's unique needs.
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Watch the Online Video Course Thinking Like a Leader
52m 18s Appropriate for all Feb 08, 2012 Updated Jan 03, 2013

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Join author and business coach Dave Crenshaw as he shows you the company, market, and customer focus that strategic leaders employ to make business decisions and anticipate new trends. This course shows you how to make crucial and insightful connections between your company's needs and future and those of the market you operate in and the customers you serve.

Discover how you can identify trends, gather and address customer feedback, and proactively deliver what your company needs for competitive advantage.

This course is one of a series of five Dave Crenshaw courses based on his Invaluable teaching methodology for professional development.

Topics include:
  • Understanding what makes your company money
  • Discovering market trends
  • Understanding your competition
  • Knowing your customers and how to better serve them
Subject:
Business
Author:
Dave Crenshaw

Understanding your company

When it comes to developing savvy, understanding is a powerful word. For your career, the most important thing to understand is the company that you're working in. Your company has a unique personality, regardless of industry, size, or how long it's been in business. Understand this personality and you can speak its language, adapt to change when it happens, and be able to anticipate what is needed without being told. Your education may have prepared you for your career, but it likely didn't show you how to best meet your company's unique needs.

For instance, a graphic designer for an advertising agency will need to behave and work in a different way, than a graphic designer working for a public university. Each of these organizations has a very different personality. By understanding their company's personality, both graphic designers cannot only perform better and have more opportunities for growth, but they'll also enjoy their jobs more, they'll feel like they fit in. There are five areas where you can learn about the personality of your company.

All of these may not apply to your company, but this will give you an idea of where to begin your study and develop some savvy. The first area is the values of your business, meaning, the written statements of what your company stands for. This may be a mission statement or perhaps a list of words that have meaning to the company, such as integrity, loyalty or customer service. In my experience, many companies have a mission statement or a set of values, but they're not referred to very often.

My suggestion is to study these values in depth, reflect on them, and rephrase them in your own words, so that you start to internalize them. Keep a list of these values on your desk where you can see them. This will help you develop an understanding of your company's personality. The second area is the company's vision. Sometimes this is a written document created by leadership, and sometimes it's just a verbal understanding of where the company is headed.

It may be in a speech the CEO has made about where the company will be five years from now. Do you understand where the company is headed? Take the time to discover what the vision is by finding the written document, if there is one, or asking some questions about where the leadership wants the company to be in the future. This will guide the decisions that you make as you work in the business. The third area is the company story. How and why was it founded and by whom? There might be a written document or a section on your company's web site about its history.

Many corporations teach the story of the business during new employee orientation. If there aren't documents about the story, perhaps you can ask your company's leadership to tell you what they know. The more you understand the story, the more passionate you'll become about the place that you work, and you'll want to contribute to its future story. The fourth area to get to know is your company's culture. You usually won't find this in a written document. The culture reflects how the organization works together.

In your own words, how would you describe the culture of your company? Is it a fun environment or is it strict? Is it competitive or team-oriented? Company culture influences day-to-day norms that have been created over time either intentionally or unintentionally. The more you understand these norms, the better prepared you'll be to serve in the company. The final area to discover is your company's cause. Many companies have adopted a cause that's greater than just profitability.

Sometimes that cause can be related to their industry, such as a bank helping entrepreneurship, or the cause may be unrelated to the business, such as a clothing store donating to cancer research. If your company has a cause, learn about that cause and why it's important to the business. If you can, in some way, make that cause your own, you'll find greater meaning in your work. By getting to know the values, vision, story, culture, and cause of your company, you'll have a greater understanding about its personality and how to be sure that your work meets the needs and wants of your company.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Thinking Like a Leader .


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Q: This course was updated on 01/03/2012. What changed?
A: This course was retitled, streamlined, and refined throughout, resulting in a slightly shorter runtime. We also added new graphics and a new welcome movie. 
 
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