What the office reception tells you about a leader

You can learn a lot about culture from watching people come and go, not least the CEO.

by René Carayol

Before accepting any assignment, I always endeavour to spend 30 minutes in the reception of the potential client, trying to understand their culture and values before we hit the ground running. You can learn so much just sitting quietly unannounced as people come and go. 

Receptions at their best should give that affirmative emotional hit of returning home to a place you are proud to belong to. This can kick-start positive feelings for a good day to be had by all. It’s a bit like having home advantage at a sports event. You know and feel that most people, if not all, are on your side. Why wouldn’t you work hard to make your reception feel like home?

There is nothing more informative than the arrival of the chief executive in reception. It begins to paint the rich tapestry of just how “things get done around here” - which is our definition of culture.

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