Scaling Your Business Without Losing Its Soul

In Culture by Gordon Highlander

How to Protect a Strong Company Culture

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, one element remains timeless: the power of authenticity. Through the lens of leadership, values, and culture, this article delves into building and nurturing an organization that thrives on genuine relationships, accountability, and a deep-seated commitment to its people.

Drawing from firsthand narratives and experiences, we explore the transformative journey of creating a legacy built on trust, alignment, and the human spirit. Join us as we unravel the intricacies of shaping an organization’s culture that resonates beyond the confines of boardrooms and operational metrics, touching the very soul of an organization.

Gordon Highlander’s Founding Story

The concepts of leadership and organizational culture are vast and multifaceted, often taking on different meanings for different individuals. At its essence, understanding these terms often stems from personal journeys and experiences.

The narrative unfolds with Gordon Highlander at its center. Team members Greg, Eric, and Mandy once formed a cohesive unit within another general contractor’s company. However, unbeknownst to the team, Greg stood at a pivotal juncture. Immersed in contemplation, he pondered the true essence of leadership, the significance of serving others, and the deeper yearnings of his heart. Greg demonstrated audacity, carving out a new path embracing challenges and risks many would sidestep.

Scaling Your Business Without Losing Its Soul - organizational culture -  Gordon Highlander Team

When the idea of this fresh venture was presented to the team, there was an air of hesitation. The uncertainties seemed vast, and the challenges daunting. However, as they delved deeper into the proposition, it became clear that this was more than just a business opportunity. It was a sincere invitation to embark on a journey of trust and collaboration. This realization shifted the team’s perspective, highlighting the virtues of courage and vulnerability.

Fast-forward sixteen years, our journey has been nothing short of transformative. The growth we’ve witnessed is wider than numbers or size. It’s a testament to the vibrant community we’ve cultivated, the bonds we’ve nurtured, and the countless individuals we’ve empowered to reach their pinnacle of potential.

Building a Family and Helping Others Grow

In our early stages, understanding the essence of being a Highlander was more than just a title or a role; it was a feeling, a sense of belonging. This foundational understanding guided our journey and shaped the legacy we aspired to leave as Highlanders.

Scaling Your Business Without Losing Its Soul - organizational culture -  Gordon Highlander Team

The beauty of our community is its organic nature. We never had to push or persuade individuals to join our mission. Instead, there was an innate pull, a magnetic allure that drew people in. When we talk about the soul of our organization, we refer to this very essence. It’s an indescribable rhythm, an intangible force that resonates deeply with those who experience it.

This rhythm, this soul, is more than just a concept. It’s a palpable energy, an emotion that fills the space and the hearts of those who are a part of our community. As we continue to grow and evolve, this very essence binds us together, reminding us of our roots and shared vision. It’s about creating a family, nurturing relationships, and empowering individuals to reach their zenith.

The Intangible Nature of Soulful Business

When individuals join our community, it’s a moment of profound honor. Each person brings a unique story, a narrative that speaks to their connection with the emotions and feelings that define our organization.

The foundation of our journey was laid with care and intention. Without those early building blocks, our trajectory would have been vastly different. These foundational principles and values have become an intrinsic part of our operations. It’s not just about business but soulful connections, meaningful relationships, and a shared purpose.

Navigating the path of a soulful business comes with its challenges. It demands authenticity, vulnerability, and a commitment to values beyond profit. While the journey may not always be easy, the rewards — both tangible and intangible — make every challenge worth it.

Accountability: A Beautiful Aspect of Culture

When we delve into accountability, we must address a common misconception. Many perceive the term “accountability” with a hint of negativity, often associating it with punitive measures or uncomfortable confrontations. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth within our organization. Here, accountability is celebrated as a beautiful and integral aspect of our culture.

In our context, accountability is not about pointing fingers or assigning blame. Instead, it’s about upholding the values and behaviors that have been the bedrock of our success. It’s about ensuring that our culture remains vibrant, authentic, and true to the vision we’ve collectively crafted.

Scaling Your Business Without Losing Its Soul - organizational culture -  Gordon Highlander Team

Our leadership recognizes the importance of leading with authenticity. It’s about setting expectations and ensuring they are communicated and upheld with genuine care and understanding. The essence of our approach to accountability lies in the relationships we nurture. We prioritize investing time and effort into our people, understanding that the foundation of any successful organization is the trust and deep connections established among its members.

When accountability is approached with empathy, authenticity, and a genuine desire for collective growth, it becomes a powerful tool. It fosters trust, strengthens bonds, and ensures the organization’s culture remains robust and resilient.

Making Decisions with Authenticity and Alignment

Our approach to accountability is rooted in the depth of our relationships. When faced with the need for difficult conversations, our guiding principle is to approach them through a lens of love. This perspective ensures that even the toughest discussions are grounded in care, understanding, and a genuine desire for collective growth.

As our organization expands at an unprecedented pace, decision-making becomes increasingly complex. There are moments of uncertainty where the right path forward might seem elusive. Getting caught up in the whirlwind of differing opinions and potential solutions is straightforward in such situations. However, our compass during these times is our core values and the foundation we’ve built over the years.

By revisiting our foundational principles and aligning our decisions with our values, we ensure that our choices are authentic and in the best interest of our people and the organization. This alignment provides clarity and instills confidence in our team, knowing that every decision is made with their well-being and the organization’s success in mind. Authenticity and alignment are the cornerstones of our decision-making process, ensuring that we remain true to our mission and vision.

Attracting and Integrating Values-Aligned People

Maintaining alignment with our culture is a continuous endeavor that begins right from the recruitment process. We’ve adopted a cross-pollinated interview approach, ensuring we onboard individuals who resonate with our core values. But our commitment doesn’t stop at hiring. Once they’re part of our family, we dive deep into the essence of our organizational culture.

One of the first experiences new members have is cultural training, where they’re introduced to the rich tapestry of stories that have shaped our organization. Greg, for instance, offers a profound insight into our history, the evolution of our values, and what it truly means to be a Gordon Highlander. This storytelling approach educates and instills a sense of pride and belonging.

Scaling Your Business Without Losing Its Soul - organizational culture -  Gordon Highlander Team

Every individual craves a sense of belonging and a platform to add value. Recognizing this, we’ve dedicated time to define and celebrate what it means to be a Highlander, ensuring that this definition is anchored in our core values. By acknowledging and appreciating our team members, we aim to foster a deep sense of belonging and value within them.

While day-to-day operations and tactical tasks are essential, our focus goes beyond that. We’re keenly interested in the holistic development of our members. It’s about how each individual shows up, not just as an employee, but as a human being, how they impact those around them and contribute to a positive, enriching experience for the entire community. Our approach is about nurturing the human spirit, ensuring that every Highlander feels valued, understood, and integral to our collective journey.

Shaping Culture: Beyond Jelly Beans and Tactical Operations

Culture is a term often thrown around in corporate settings, but its true essence can sometimes be misunderstood. It’s not about the jelly beans we offer in the breakroom, though they’re a delightful perk that many enjoy. Culture delves deeper, touching the core of our behaviors, beliefs, and actions in alignment with them.

In industries driven by operations and results, it’s easy to get caught up in the tactical aspects of the job. While achieving results is crucial, stepping back and looking beyond the immediate tasks is equally important. If we solely focus on the operational side without shaping the parallel cultural aspect, we risk becoming an organization filled with task runners, leading to mediocrity.

Our willingness to invest in our business sets us apart, ensuring it stands out from the rest. This investment isn’t just financial. It encompasses the time, effort, and attention we dedicate to nurturing our people. Our mantra is clear: people come first. While this approach may present challenges, given the complexities of human dynamics, it’s the foundation upon which lasting legacies are built.

Dive Deeper into Authentic Culture

Culture, values, and genuine relationships are the foundation of thriving organizations in today’s dynamic business landscape. We’re dedicated to sharing insights, stories, and strategies that can help shape an organization’s culture of authenticity and alignment. Eager to learn more about fostering a values-driven environment in your organization? Let’s connect and explore how our insights can benefit your team.

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Scaling Your Business Without Losing Its Soul - organizational culture -  Gordon Highlander Team

About Gordon Highlander

Gordon Highlander, headquartered in Texas, is a premier general contractor focusing on design-build and partially- and fully-engineered construction solutions. With decades of legacy, we have delivered millions of square feet across diverse commercial and industrial sectors. Our expertise extends to major Texan markets, including Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston.