Here’s a very simple observation that I’m sure all of us can easily recognize:
The culture in any organization has an enormous influence over how people perform.
Think about any organization you’ve ever been a part of. It could be a sports team or an orchestra or a dance troupe or a company. If you’ve ever been part of an extraordinary team, wasn’t there a level of expectation on that team? When you join a team like that, you immediately pick up the vibe, you look around, consciously and unconsciously, and you realize that “we play like champions here.” And it causes you to raise your level of play to match what you see around you.
And if you’ve ever been on a lousy team, the opposite is just as true. You sink to the level of the people around you. And you don’t have to have a PhD in organizational behavior to figure this out. We all know it from our own experience. The culture in any organization has that much influence.
In fact, regardless of how great your products are, or how smart your strategy is, you’ll only go as far as your culture will take you. To take this one step further, think about any strategic initiative you hope to accomplish. Your ability to execute on that initiative is directly related to how your people operate, and that’s all driven by your culture.
But here’s the really fascinating thing: if you’re not purposely driving the culture you want, it’s getting created anyway, typically driven mostly by the strongest personalities in your company, for better or worse. In other words, in every group of people, natural leaders emerge, and simply by the sheer force of their personality, they tend to have a disproportionate amount of influence over the norms of the group. They set the culture.
When you can recognize the powerful impact that culture has on performance, you begin to appreciate why it’s simply too important to leave to chance. Instead, as leaders, we need to be more intentional and more systematic in creating the kind of environment, or culture, that will cause our people to perform at their highest level.
At High Performing Culture, we teach leaders a simple, practical, and sustainable methodology for creating a truly high-performing culture. It’s a system that’s being used by hundreds of companies across the country to drive new levels of performance. You can learn more about it through Vistage and at our website.
David Friedman is the Founder and CEO of High Performing Culture, LLC (HPC). His company helps organizations to create, drive, and maintain high performing cultures, with a proven system that’s straightforward, practical, and easy to use.David is the author of two books: Fundamentally Different, which is based on the insights he learned and taught during his many years as a CEO, and Culture by Design, which has been called “the most useful book ever written on organizational culture.” A frequent guest speaker and seminar leader, in the last 5 years alone, he’s led more than300 workshops for more than 3000 CEOs. He also serves as a consultant to scores of companies around the country.