“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” management guru Peter Drucker once said. No matter how well thought out your competitive strategy is, if the people in your organisation aren’t ready, able and willing to put it into action, it’s worthless. To further illustrate the effect of culture on strategy, General George S Patton once declared that “a good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week"
Now, none of this is to suggest you should run your organisation like a military platoon, but it does highlight the value of culture for determining organisational success. The culture of your business will drive competitive advantage because it determines how things are done and how people behave.
The ultimate goal is to create a high-performance pro-social culture, set on a solid set of virtues that fulfils every soul, where there’s an environment in which people able to thrive.
Empower a high-performance mindset within your people, where they are enabled to make the right decisions at each opportunity. Let them find meaning in their work so they live life to the fullest. Build an ethos of Can do, Will do, Must do.
A high-performance culture is developed by building your organisation character on a set of clear virtues through rituals which in turn create a deep bond with your employees, where they find true purpose and meaning. It's a culture where your people gain awareness of themselves and their organisation. You have to make a clear choice what virtues your organisation stands for and live it. You’ll then be making their work highly meaningful and rewarding, and in return, your organisation will prosper through a sustained culture of performance and wellbeing.
This isn’t easy to achieve, which is why so few companies can say they’ve built a winning culture, and even the ones that do so may find it difficult to maintain. Here are 10 interdependent steps to building a winning culture:
Make sure everyone understands the history of your business, what it’s in business for, and how it makes a difference in people’s lives. This helps your employees to develop an outward focus on your customers, rather than the internal politics of your business.
Build an interconnected team by sharing the business objectives, plans and strategies with employees, and explaining where their role fits in so they can begin thinking like owners.
“Doing the right thing” otherwise known as ethics, should be the single most important value of your organisation, as it will allow you to operate with a good conscience and a solid company reputation.
Promote innovation and action by basing the company ethos on a mindset of Can do, Will do, Must do.
Empower your people to be the best at what they do by providing them with all of your available knowledge on products, customers and competitors, while providing them with the training and skills to be successful every day.
Celebrate organisational success with your employees so they can feel that success is also theirs. Likewise, celebrate the success of individual employees and reward high-performance.
Build accountability into every aspect of your organisation, both internally and externally, by measuring and regularly reporting against targets, indicators and goal results. Hold those at the top most responsible. Make the rules very clear.
Ensure that your business and your people are agile and ready to take advantage of new opportunities and to move with necessary environmental and strategic changes.
Build a leadership culture that consistently exemplifies the behaviours and values that define an honest, hardworking yet healthy winning culture.
Rigorously track the progress of your organisational culture as it evolves to make sure performance stays high, people are well and customers satisfied. The Board must test regularly that what they feel is the games is understood by those touching your customers daily.
Build great people who are servants to their community and greater good, and they will build you great organisations.
Developing a winning culture isn’t an exercise that can be completed half-heartedly, it takes laser focus from the top to ensure that each of the above steps are executed. It will not happen in organisations where the board and C-suite aren't committed. But, we know from the organisations we work with that the benefits exponentially outweigh the effort. So, the next time you’re having another meeting to discuss your competitive strategy, ask yourself whether your people are actually ready to execute that strategy and most importantly are you ready to live the culture you want your organisation to embody.
About the author
As the CEO and founder of Populis, I work with organisations to help them build strong people and businesses alike. Through our revolutionary programs including the Happiness Platform™, Rise Warrior Rise, Virtous Leadership and The Leadership Framework™, we assist organisations and universities to build a culture of wellbeing and high performance.
firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.populis.com.au for more insights.If you’d like to discover how Populis can help your business and your people to outperform your previous best, please feel free to contact me on +61404049613 or at
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