Creating an Organizational Culture for the Chest Physician: Creating an Organizational Culture for the Chest Physician

Chest. 2021 Jul;160(1):268-273. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2020.11.040. Epub 2020 Dec 4.


Culture is a key driver of organizational performance and underpins strategy. As previously discussed, if the strategy is the plants and the garden plan for a garden, the culture is the soil. Without a healthy culture, nothing will grow, irrespective of how well planned the garden or how beautiful the individual flowers. Using the case of establishing the culture in an institute at the Cleveland Clinic, the article examines an approach to establishing and maintaining an organizational culture. Anchors for this process are a situational assessment of the current culture as a new leader steps in and mindfulness by the leader of how members of the institute should experience the organization. Critical success factors include open communication and establishing psychological safety as well as modeling integrity. Fundamentally, when cultures are grounded in the seven classical virtues-trust, compassion, courage, justice, wisdom, temperance, and hope-they are best positioned to unleash the discretionary effort of its members. When people expend discretionary effort, they do the right thing when nobody is watching and the performance drivers are internal motivation and alignment with mission rather than external drivers to seek reward (carrots) or to avoid punishment (sticks).

Keywords: culture; discretionary effort; performance; virtues.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Physicians / organization & administration*
  • Pulmonary Medicine / organization & administration*