The Power of Emotional Culture: Building a Successful Business

Most organisations and leaders don’t realise or pay enough attention to the critical role emotions play in building culture and the employee experience at work.  Instead, they focus on how people think and behave – an organisations’ ‘cognitive culture’.  By ignoring the emotional culture, organisations and leaders are at risk of glossing over a vital part of what makes people and organisations tick.  In this podcast Teresa Callow, GM of People and Culture at The New Zealand Merino Company, shares how an understanding of human behaviour and emotional culture has been key to the New Zealand Merino Company’s competitive value proposition and success in transforming the wool industry from volume to value. 

She shares her insights on how to develop an effective emotional culture aligned to business strategy, brand and growth. The results are remarkable and surprisingly more achievable than you might think.

Join Dr Ben Palmer, CEO Genos International and Marie El Daghl, MD Chasing Albert, for a discussion on how a great emotional culture can be developed to help facilitate insights, innovation, productivity and business success.  

In this episode of EI at Work, you’ll learn:

[00:01:20] The history and mission of the New Zealand Merino Company, including their focus on sustainability and innovation.

[00:05:11] The importance of listening, building deep relationships, and understanding human behaviour in building an emotional culture.

[00:10:00] The importance of emotional culture in building trust within an organization, and how high trust cultures embrace flexible working practices.

 [00:14:00] The potential misalignment between cognitive and emotional culture, and how it can affect employee behaviour and engagement.

[00:17:57] The different ways organisations measure emotional culture including engagement surveys, day-to-day emotion check-ins and using an emotional culture deck to facilitate discussions.

[00:20:22] How the Emotional Culture Deck is used in aged care facilities and how it helps organizations define how they want to feel on a day-to-day basis.

[00:21:25] How often organisations should measure their emotional culture, and how it depends on the context and business environment.

[00:23:15] How emotional culture is not yet widely accepted in Australian businesses, and how it is becoming increasingly important due to new laws around psychological safety.

[00:30:36] The National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre in Australia and how the photographs on the walls tell the story of its culture.

[00:31:49] Storytelling and its role at the New Zealand Merino Company and the challenge of articulating the values of the New Zealand Merino Company.


About Teresa Callow, GM People & Culture at The New Zealand Merino Company Limited

Teresa Callow is an experienced and highly skilled professional in the field of leadership and organisational development. With a career spanning over two decades, Teresa has made significant contributions to various companies and organisations, helping them enhance their culture, capabilities, and overall performance.
Currently serving as the GM People & Culture at The New Zealand Merino Company Limited, Teresa plays a crucial role in driving the company’s people strategy and fostering a positive work environment. Prior to this, she held leadership positions at Synlait Milk Limited, where she served as the Head of Culture and Capability and Manager of Leadership, Culture, Diversity & Inclusion.
Teresa’s expertise extends beyond corporate settings. She ran her own leadership consultancy firm for seven years where she designed and facilitated leadership and organizational development initiatives that promote growth, behavioural change, and cultural transformation. Amongst her valued clients were prominent organizations such as AgResearch, Kirk Roberts Consulting Engineers and the University of Canterbury.
With an educational background that includes a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with Distinction from the University of Canterbury and a Master’s degree in Applied Psychology, Teresa combines her deep theoretical knowledge with practical experience to deliver impactful solutions. She has received numerous accolades for her professionalism, integrity, and exceptional service. Colleagues and clients commend her responsiveness, critical thinking abilities, and dedication to achieving tangible results.

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