Tuesday 13 April 2021
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The Winning Corporate Culture

The Winning Corporate Culture


In 2016, I had the privilege of working with the global marketing department of a leading international bank in Uganda.

My company`s mission was to train their team to be more effective and productive at work and in their personal lives using the principles in the internationally acclaimed best seller in personal and corporate development, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

Our team went through the needs analysis for this team of about 25. By the time we were done we were intimidated. Never had any of us met a group of men and women who had such a pleasant demeanor, were highly motivated, with an amazing spirit of teamwork. Our question throughout this period was, `do they really need our services? `

Over a period of two and a half months we were able to discover what makes this department the most successful in the banking sector in the country. Below I share what we discovered.

  • The Management team of the bank are deliberate on the culture they want to develop. By going all out to practice the values of the bank, they are realising the bank`s vision to be the leader in emerging markets for financial services.
  • The department has internalised Jim Collins concept of getting the right people, on the right bus and sitting on the right seats. The qualifications and qualities to be a part of this team are clear. Should anyone struggle to adapt they are `moved` on. The bank is particular on who gets to be a part of the management team. The head of department is an extremely well qualified, pleasant lady, whose personality is endearing. Her easy-going character flows throughout the department. It is easy to think that this is a group of people who have assembled simply to have fun.

  • Most of the team members we spoke to are extremely ambitions. Amazingly despite this ambition they still seemed to get along and to have respect for each other. There was not a hint of jealousy or back stabbing. I asked one of the senior dealers how they managed this. His answer was clear, anyone found to have this sort of attitude is shunned to a point that they will leave on their own accord.
  • As I have stated already there is an amazing spirit of teamwork. There is no shortage of takers for team members to help those who may need help.
  • Continuous team development through training is a high priority. Team members regularly go on career and personal development courses. This keeps them refreshed and in tune with trends in the country and internationally.

The head of the department was at pains to tell me that building this culture has not been easy. There was strong resistance at first and she often wondered if this battle for culture was really worth it. Interestingly, figures don’t lie.

They continue to grow from strength to strength. Unless their competition discovers their secrets, I don’t see much competition for a while.



Stirling Gapara was born and raised in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, he worked for Universal Leaf Tobacco, a leading international tobacco company where he rose to the position of Sales Leader. In 2007 Stirling moved to Uganda to work for another international tobacco firm, Leaf Tobacco and Commodities. There he held the position of GLT Operations Manager until 2014. After leaving Leaf Tobacco, Stirling founded Stirling Leadership Consults where he is the Managing Director. Stirling has always had a passion for leadership. He has held several leadership positions in both the corporate and non- corporate sectors. Currently, he sits on the board of Acacia International School in Kampala and is also President of the Parents Council. He is the vice president of Kampala Toastmasters. He also sits on the alumni board for the Institute for National Transformation. Stirling is a member of the John Maxwell Team. He is an avid reader, a keen sports fan and a keep fit enthusiast. He is married to Vimbai and together they have 3 children.