Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Taking the Frat House Out of Business Culture

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Taking the Frat House Out of Business Culture

"Our business school professors never mentioned that smoking, drinking, swearing, hunting, fishing, and visits to strip clubs might be keys to rising in the world of high tech. Indeed, were lessons about how to prosper in frat house companies like EMC Corp. included in the MBA curriculum, many women would have dropped out right then and there."
So begins a posting by Alice Eagly, the co-author with Linda Carli of Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders.

While these behaviors become less frequent in the US, they remain standard practice for entertainment in much of Asia. The question becomes whether it is necessary to ensure the sale, the deal, the guanxi. Or perhaps there are a growing number of men, companies, and cultural settings in which new practices are required.

If business relationships are changing, what can be done about changing the current culture? In an HBR podcast, Alice Eagly suggests that leadership should take a hard look at the practices to see whether they are aligned with the important strategic aspects of its customer and client relationships. Consider how wide-spread disclosure, like in EMC's case, might support or tarnish your company's image. What does this do to the employment brand? Are all of your employees (men and women) comfortable with this? Will you be able to attract the largest pool of talent to your company in a tight labor market? Will this enhance or diminish your ability to retain the top talent in your industry?

Should the Frat House be there in your business culture?

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