How a Well-Defined Company Culture and Strong Leadership Spurs Growth

strong leadership - city works chefs
Guest post by Carrie Luxem, Restaurant HR Group.

When you’re working so diligently to grow and expand a company, you really need to have the entire team on board in order to truly gain momentum. There’s simply no substitute for what a strong leadership team and a unified employee culture can bring to the table.

Let’s take a look at how these two areas contribute to growth and success.

Company Culture

Culture is one of those words that is thrown around quite a bit in the business world. So much so, that its meaning has become convoluted and watered down. One of the best definitions I’ve ever heard — and one that is exemplified by the team at Bottleneck — is from Frances Frei and Anne Morriss at Harvard Business Review:

Culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is of course, most of the time.

Clearly defining culture from the get-go is imperative. It provides the jumping off point for every other action and interaction going forward. Think of it as the hub of your company wheel. Each employee represents a spoke of that same wheel, and as they go about their day, they spread that culture to each and every person they meet.

Obviously the specifics will vary for each company, but the importance lies in establishing and following predetermined guidelines and behaviors. For example, the Bottleneck culture revolves around being genuine — genuine with guests, vendors, and teammates. This culture matches the Bottleneck overall vision and has become integrated into everything that they do.

company culture - jay and events team at Whirlyball

A Team Effort

Rome wasn’t built in a day and a strong team with a deeply engrained culture isn’t either. It takes time, commitment, and consistency. But it’s certainly not impossible.

Hiring the “right” employees, those who demonstrate qualities that will complement your company’s goals and culture, is paramount. As any business owner knows, hiring — and all of the associated HR tasks that go along with it — can be overwhelming.

When the Bottleneck team started out in 2001, they did what many entrepreneurs do. They attempted to handle virtually every area of the business on their own. However, they learned that their unique expertise was relegated to key areas, none of which were HR-related. And so, they partnered with my team at Restaurant HR Group, a full-service HR firm, so we could quickly focused on our own areas of expertise: payroll, employee benefits, and leadership training to name a few.

This freed up time and energy, and Bottleneck quickly reaped the benefits, growing exponentially in the following years by being able to focus on overseeing restaurant operations. During this time, every step, every decision, every conversation offered an opportunity to display the Bottleneck culture, and they worked diligently to ensure that each employee understood the goals and had the tools to see them through.

team effort - BM various 2015

No Substitution

Looking at that track record, I am confident that strong leadership coupled with commitment to a unified company culture have been instrumental factors in the success of the company.

The bonus? They’ve developed a stellar team of some of the most genuine individuals you’ll ever meet.


Carrie Luxem
Restaurant HR Group