A letter from Kelly King: Why your culture matters

In this space last issue, I wrote about how important it is for an individual to be clear about their “why”—i.e., their purpose—because it gives them direction and produces positive energy that causes happiness and success. This also applies to organizations.

Every successful organization has a clear and worthwhile purpose. For an organization to be effective, its purpose must be integrated with the organization’s mission and be supported by clearly understood guiding values. Purpose, mission and values form the core of an organization’s culture. And culture is one of the most significant factors in determining an organization’s success or failure.

Unfortunately, many leaders—and employees—get confused about what organizational culture is. They think it’s “the way to do things around here.” Describing practices is very important. For example, “We are very direct and straightforward around here” is a practice derived from the values of honesty and integrity.

Purpose is the most important aspect of culture because it provides the North Star for an organization’s employees. Remember, there actually is no organization per se, there is only a group of humans organized for a purpose. When a purpose is unclear, the employees have a hard time understanding why an organization exists and why they work there. A weak or misunderstood purpose results in employees acting very much like individuals thrown together with no sense of a shared direction, meaning or satisfaction.

When purpose is enacted correctly, an organization’s leader has clearly and persistently laid out the purpose—i.e., the “why we are here.” Our purpose at BB&T, for example, is to “make the world a better place to live.” We try very hard to make sure every BB&T associate understands our purpose because we want them to actively help accomplish this purpose. If someone isn’t motivated by our purpose, they should not work for BB&T.  

When most or all of an organization’s employees are committed to the purpose, they cohesively work together to accomplish the organization’s goal. As they do this, their days aren’t simply working for a paycheck but rather like playing on a team seeking to achieve a goal, where each player is trying to help the team win and doesn’t have an undue focus on their own role or the number of points they score.

Purpose, mission and values properly shared and understood result in practices that are effective and efficient. Then, everyone wins: The organization achieves its purpose, the employees are successful and happy, and the organization’s beneficiaries receive the appropriate long-term reward.

At BB&T, by helping our clients achieve their financial dreams and goals in life, by creating a workplace where our associates can learn, grow and be fulfilled in their worth, and by helping meet the needs of our communities, we provide an optimum long-term return to our shareholders. In the end, all of our stakeholders win and we make the world a better place to live.

Kelly S. King
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
BB&T Corporation

Why leadership purpose matters: A message from Will Sutton

The theme for our third issue is one that inspires me and my team at The BB&T Leadership Institute every day: corporate purpose.

A strong purpose is essential for an organization’s current well-being and its long-term performance. As you no doubt understand, many employees today strongly prefer to work for a company that is making a difference in the world.

A shining example of leading with purpose is this issue’s cover subject: Debbie García-Gratacos. As the president and CEO of DEVAL, a real estate company, García-Gratacos helps Hispanics in underserved communities achieve homeownership. She talks about the importance of home ownership and how it enables families to prosper in "Passion. Purpose. Impact.García-Gratacos is also passionate about helping her native Puerto Rico, where DEVAL has one of its offices. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, for instance, she led fundraising efforts that brought $3.5 million worth of food and supplies to the beleaguered people of Puerto Rico.

Another purpose-driven leader, Kate Reece, is the president of the Center for Private Business at Wake Forest University, and she and her team recently participated in leadership training at The BB&T Leadership Institute’s newly named Kelly S. King Center. Their intention? To disconnect from their day-to-day responsibilities and develop as professionals, so they can best achieve their organization’s goal: To help closely held and family-owned businesses in North Carolina. In "Where Leadership Grows,” Reece shares how she and her staff found their sojourn at The Kelly S. King Center essential to planning for their organization’s future and ensuring they possess the needed skills for their organization’s goals.

Sometimes, being purposeful involves planning for the time when you are no longer the leader. In "The Transition," Winchester Equipment CEO Doug Rinker discusses his decision to retire and how he and his leadership team are working together to ensure the continued success of the equipment supply company he has helmed for the past 30 years.

One way The BB&T Leadership Institute makes a difference in the world is by offering tuition-free programs to public school principals. In "Letting Go and Leading," Kimberly Gryszko of Virginia shares how her participation in Mastering Leadership Dynamics™ for Educational Leaders built her leadership awareness and showed her that changing her beliefs and behaviors in the workplace could positively impact not only her life but also the lives of the students, teachers and parents around her.

We hope you find this issue’s articles informative, insightful and motivational on your journey to improve as a leader and practice conscious, purposeful leadership in your organization. You can explore the previous issue of our magazine online, as well.

Happy reading—and leading!

Will Sutton
President & Director
The BB&T Leadership Institute

Troy Johnson Reinvents Himself  (Program Insights)

CFO and COO Troy Johnson learned valuable leadership development skills while participating in Mastering Leadership Dynamics. 

Leading for the Greater Good  (Research Driven)

Discover corporate purpose insights based on new research from the field of business psychology. 

Become a Conscious Leader  (Program Insights)

The BB&T Leadership Institute offers programs in leadership development and other essential business skills.

Passion. Purpose. Impact.  (Feature)

Debbie Garcia-Gratacos of DEVAL, a real estate company, has a passion for helping others, especially Hispanic homeowners. 

Where Leadership Grows  (Photo Essay)

Kate Reece experienced an atmosphere of discovery and reflection at The BB&T Leadership Institute’s Kelly S. King Center in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

Finding Corporate Purpose  (Feature)

Learn how corporate purpose is giving companies a competitive advantage.

Proper Recognition  (Feature)

The BB&T Corporation’s board votes to name The BB&T Leadership Institute’s campus after CEO Kelly S. King.

Crack a Book  (Books)

Eight must-read leadership books to improve your decision-making ability, communication skills, grit and more. 

Letting Go and Leading  (Education)

Poquoson City Public Schools Principal Kimberly Gryszko has dramatically improved her leadership style, thanks to her participation in The BB&T Leadership Institute’s Mastering Leadership Dynamics for Educational Leaders program.

Prepping for Success  (Education)

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation interns and Hispanic League Scholarship Program recipients participated in the Emerging Leaders program at The BB&T Leadership Institute.

The Transition  (Leadership Transitions)

Winchester Equipment’s CEO Doug Rinker is planning to retire, and the company realized it needed to improve its leadership pipeline. 

What’s Your Organization’s Talent Brand?  (Talent)

Understanding your organization’s talent brand enables you to make any necessary adjustments. A strong talent brand improves employee recruitment and retention and, ultimately, engagement. 

Seeing Yourself from All Sides  (Business Minded)

A 360 degree review helps you grow in self-awareness and become a more effective leader.

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