Born to Succeed Insights

The Importance of Culture from an Intern’s Perspective

Being an intern at Upnext Leadership Coaching has opened my eyes to the world of leadership and management in a professional setting. I am currently a rising junior at Boston College with a major in Economics and a double minor in Marketing and Managing for Social Impact. I have been working alongside Upnext’s Founder, Jill Bornstein for 3 months now supporting her on client work, marketing, and her website. This is my first summer as an intern and I have learned a lot about the challenges that come with being a leader and managing a team. While I have held many leadership positions in the past and gravitate towards those roles, I have never experienced firsthand the real challenges people face daily in order to run their businesses and be successful in their roles. The glimpse into higher levels of leadership and the responsibility I have been exposed to has given me many new insights I will hold onto as I enter the workforce. 

Culture and understanding the process are big themes I have encountered when working with Jill and her clients. According to the World’s Most Admired Companies, ⅔ of the senior executives say culture attributes 30% or more of their organizational market share, and ⅓ stated culture attributes 50% or more. Culture is a large factor that drives success but it is often overlooked. Initially, I thought a strong culture was a given within an organization but as I have come to learn it needs to be nurtured and continuously developed. Having a company culture that is poorly defined or emphasized leads to other problems, and the worst behavior that is allowed becomes the culture and “norm”. 

When culture weakens, other aspects of an organization start to unravel. One of the most common issues I have noticed is “accountability”. It is not always easy to take accountability, but it is important to solving problems and getting things done. Without a strong culture, and trust within an organization, accountability quickly erodes. Accountability is so important because it is intertwined with many other important characteristics of a successful team. It creates trust, better communication, higher productivity, and better outcomes. Jill works with tons of clients on this topic and during my shadowing experience, I have seen firsthand teams improve their results once they improve their accountability. Focusing on this forces individuals to prioritize tasks effectively, create clear timelines, and have deeper conversations among all members of the team. 

Accountability is not only taking responsibility for the current issue at hand but making a plan to do better in the future. Numerous times, I have seen Jill help her clients understand what it truly means to be accountable and to make adjustments so it improves. Being a “repeat offender” destroys one’s credibility and harms an individual’s personal brand within their organization. Other members will start to compensate for their lack of trust weakening everyone’s work. In one team meeting, Jill pointed out that it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back to the task according to a University of California Irvine study. Multitasking and trying to overcompensate forces everyone to become less productive and the whole process is affected in a negative way. 

Prioritizing culture and building trust is an easy way to make sure your organization maintains a healthy and productive environment. It affects every aspect of a business including performance, client satisfaction, efficiency, and job retention. It needs to start at the top in order to blossom within the individuals creating unity. Making sure your organization’s culture is where it should be is important in staying ahead of the curve and maintaining a competitive edge. As someone who will enter the workforce full-time in 2 years, Upnext has taught me tons about the importance of company culture and it is something I will prioritize when looking for a job. Working with Jill and Upnext has changed my outlook on team performance and a company’s value overall.

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