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Viewpoint: How attitude helps shape your company culture

Contributing Writer //April 9, 2020//

Viewpoint: How attitude helps shape your company culture

Contributing Writer //April 9, 2020//

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Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

— Viktor E. Frankl

I read a story about a young man named John who received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.

John tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to “clean up” the bird’s vocabulary. Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back.

John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder.

John, in desperation, threw up his hands, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes, the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly it was totally quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer.

The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arms and said “I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.”

John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, “May I ask what the turkey did?”

Like John, you may be surrounded by people with bad attitudes and you are desperate about what to do. Did you know that, according to an article in Inc., science says your bad attitude can cost you $3,600 a year? The link was made between cynicism and income and how cynical people make less money.

How about you? Are you allowing a bad attitude and cynicism to generate negative consequences in your life? The attitude you have contributes to the overall company culture where you work. The same goes for your colleagues.

Based upon your attitude and the attitude of those around you, is this concerning? Your attitude is important. Here are a few reasons why.

People are watching. Wherever you are within your organizational structure, you carry within you a certain amount of influence. This translates into your leadership capacity. So how you handle stress, adversity, challenges, the unexpected, etc., contributes to an attitude that’s on display. Your attitude by default and whether you like it or not is shaping the culture around you because other people see it.

People are listening. One of the most important things you learn as a leader is how to choose your words carefully. It’s not always easy especially when that special someone at the office has gotten on your last nerve. I get it. But the way you contribute with your words ought to be a reflection of how you want to add value as a leader. Are your words lifting? Helpful? Encouraging? Know this: Your attitude, as reflected in your words, matters because people are listening. Are you helping your culture or hurting it?

People are reacting. As a leader in your organization, not only are people watching and listening to your attitude, they are reacting to it. If your attitude alone was the attitude thermostat to which the rest of your organization was set, what kind of workplace would it be? You may not think that your attitude alone makes that much difference.

But what if your attitude was taken and multiplied by 30 employees, 50 employees, or 100? Would it matter then? Would you stay and work in that environment?

Final Thoughts

“The greatest day in your life and mine,” says John Maxwell, “is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”

How about you? It’s time for an attitude check to help shape your company culture in a positive way.

Doug Dickerson is a nationally recognized leadership speaker and writer. Contact him at managementmoment@ He is the author of the book Great Leaders Wanted. To read more and to learn more and find out about speaking services, visit