25% – a quarter of people that were surveyed said that they left or quit their job because of toxic company culture. Now I will admit, I fought really hard. I mean, I searched for places that had great company culture. It was on my list of questions when I would go into an interview, tell me about your company culture. Well, there is no such thing as company culture! No such thing, unless you have about 20 or fewer employees.

That’s because culture lives at the team level; companies are made up of a bunch of subcultures.

So if you are thinking as a leader especially, that you want to get out of your company, you want to leave the organization, or just how you’re talking about it is saying that this is a toxic culture, guess what – you as a leader are responsible for your own culture. You are creating the culture that you want to have; positive and negative.

Look, when I was a leader just within our office, which was a remote office 3,000 miles away from our corporate headquarters, you could have said that there was an office culture. There were about 35 to 50 employees over the course of the 11 years that I was there. At one time as a new employee, a little more green-eyed, I felt like there was this office culture. But there wasn’t, it depended on what individual team you were on and how that leader led.

And the good news, at least what I experienced, is that even when my leader was creating a toxic culture, toxic subculture, I was able to break it even smaller into my own team and create my own team’s culture. It’s not to say that we were impervious to the toxicity that was happening around us, but I was able to at least create something that felt good when we were together. So I’m asking you, I’m challenging you, if you are a leader, do not blame company culture.

You have the ability to create your own subculture. And if it’s feeling toxic, I want you to look inward and see what can you do to create a more positive environment, even if it means that you are asking for non-official leaders to help build a positive culture. But stop using company culture as an excuse, and instead use it as a tool, a place of strength for you as a leader, as an opportunity for you to create a really positive subculture to support your employees, and create an amazing place that they want to show up to every single day!