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Leaders: Who's Shaping Your Company's Culture?

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This story appears in the June 2016 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

I’m a woman in a male-dominated industry. When I was an employee, I could roll as one of the guys. Now I own a company, and an unpleasant bro culture has emerged here. I can’t hang with the guys (I’m the boss, after all), but I also can’t seem to influence their behavior. What do I do?

You’ve spent more time being “one of the guys” than being at the top, so here’s a helpful reminder, in case you’re feeling wistful: When you’re one of the guys, you’re fitting in -- which is the opposite of being a strong leader. As CEO, you can’t have a sense of belonging. You need to flip that on its head and create a place others want to belong to. Every leader makes mistakes, and it seems you’ve made your first big one: You hired a team and then let them dictate the company culture. Now you need to fix that.

Can an entire company’s culture be changed? Yes, but it has to be done fairly and transparently. If you haven’t formalized a company code of conduct, get started immediately so that employees stop making up their own rules. Make it clear to employees what needs to change and why. Everyone will need to know what is expected going forward.

Martin Poole | Getty Images

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