'Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast'

- Dec 02, 2017-

Reflecting on Furniture Today’s just completed Leadership Conference, one session keeps replaying in my head.

In a stirring presentation that had attendees alternately tearing up and cheering, Chad Spencer, president of Top 100 Dufresne Spencer Group, both personified and outlined the power and critical importance of leadership at a time of transformative change in the furniture industry.

“I believe that culture is everything, and culture eats strategy for breakfast,” Spencer told us. “If you don’t have a culture, strategy is nothing more than suggestions.”

His high-energy presentation offered a powerful examination of what makes great leaders and what it takes for organizations to foster that leadership.

He drew a parallel between Tod Bolsinger’s book Canoeing the Mountains, an exploration of the Lewis and Clark expedition to navigate then uncharted segments of North America, and the uncharted territory the furniture industry is confronting at a time of transformative change.

“To lead in uncharted territories means you have to reconsider all the alternatives and all the assumptions,” Spencer said. “Everything is on the table.”

Challenging attending industry leaders, Spencer stressed that leadership flows from those with great conviction. And conviction flows from purpose. “Purpose fuels everything and is the one thing for which you’re willing to die,” he said. He challenged attendees to develop a written purpose statement that encompasses both their personal and professional lives.

He pointed to Dufresne Spencer Group’s own purpose statement, “Life Moments Matter,” and noted that leadership at home is as important as leadership in the work place and one rarely exists without the other.

In an effort to create a framework for this culture throughout your organization, Spencer utilized the saying: Ready, Set, Love.

Being “ready” is having the right purpose, the right vision and the right mindset.

"Set" stands for Spread, Evangelize, Teach. To achieve this, Spencer noted, simply requires having a clear sense of mission, both for yourself and your employees. “Creating leaders that are on a mission makes all the difference in the world,” he said. “You can’t tell me you’re fully committed if your people are not.”

"Love" Spencer characterized as a willingness to sacrifice, which could be as simple as sacrificing time to give an employee your full attention when a problem needs solving or a change is being suggested.

“When you are fully present and you are living in the now, that is when you can truly make a difference as a leader,” he said.

As he talked, we saw someone embodying that type of a leader.