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How do Great Leaders Create High Performing Cultures?

The challenge of leadership

Every day, leaders are tasked with the “impossible”: take the lofty strategy, goals, and vision of the organization – and turn it into reality – through people.

The causes of poor performance and barriers to success are nearly infinite:

  • Apathy and disengagement
  • Competing and confusing priorities
  • Conflict and personality differences
  • Poor communication
  • Lack of productivity
  • Lack of alignment
  • People doing “just enough to skate by”
  • External limits and competition

Ultimately, the challenge boils down to “motivation.”

How do you motivate your team to work hard, stay on task, be a good team member, and engage with the work?

How do you get people to CARE?

It’s a tall order, yet…

Some leaders rise to consistently meet their goals and achieve their visions.

What’s their secret sauce?

If you study successful leaders, you’ll discover that most (all?) of them create a Culture of Motivation.

I refer to this as Team Spirit in my Matrix of Motivation – and today we’re going to take a deep dive into what it takes to create a Culture of Motivation.

Let’s start here.

What is “culture” anyway?

Deal and Kennedy (1982) defined organizational culture as “the way things get done around here.”

Beyond that, your culture defines the kind of workplace you create.  Culture is how it feels to work there. Culture is how people engage with each other. Culture is the range of behaviors and actions that are deemed acceptable, and not acceptable.

You can influence your culture with statements of  purpose, vision, and values.

But the greatest influence comes from how you and your leaders lead.

Culture is created through behaviors, actions, and inactions.

“Masterful Leaders know they are fully accountable for their organization’s culture. They take responsibility for their words and actions to create their desired culture.” ~ Coach Ken

Two of the best actions you can take to develop a Culture of Motivation are to lead with authenticity and instill belief.

Lead with Authenticity

You don’t need to turn into Tony Robbins in order to become motivational.

People respond to authenticity in a leader – and being someone you’re not (ie: trying to be Tony) is the opposite of authenticity.

There are 2 components to authenticity: integrity and courage.

Integrity is about walking your talk. Doing what you say you will do. When your actions consistently match with your words, you are in integrity.

Being in integrity builds trust. Not only trust from others, but also trust in yourself which builds confidence.

It is courageous to  say what you’re thinking. This means giving honest feedback, initiating difficult conversations, or engaging constructively with conflict.

Conversations that set and enforce boundaries require courage. Some leaders avoid the vulnerability of maintaining a boundary. They deny and repress their awareness of the boundary that is being violated. Team members see this with x-ray clarity. Their trust in the leader, belief in the team, and motivation to perform spiral downward when they see repeated missed opportunities for their leader to speak courageously.

When you lead with authenticity, courageously speaking and acting with integrity, you become the masterful leader teams want to follow.

But where are you taking them?

That’s where belief comes in.

Instill Belief with the 3 Cons

If you’ve ever watched Ted Lasso, you’re familiar with his locker room BELIEVE poster.

Everyone needs to believe that’s it’s possible to win. That the goals are achievable. That they have what it takes.

Belief is contagious.

Want to infect your environment with belief? Try playing the “con” game by modeling these 3 behaviors:

Confidence. Exuding authentic confidence and trust in your team’s ability. Just knowing your leader has confidence in you to solve problems and deliver is incredibly motivating.

Conviction. Staying the course, even when the going gets tough. Having faith that the actions taken today will create the desired results. If you show conviction in your plans and belief in your people , then they will and letting your people know this.

Consistency. Embodying the values and vision of the organization. Everyday. All day. And when you slip? (And you will slip!) Owning the shortcoming. Being accountable for all intended and unintended consequences of your actions and inactions.

“Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you are right.”

Teams learn the culture from their leader.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” ~ Peter Drucker

Masterful leaders set and influence culture through being authentic.

They have the conversations that matter.

They instill belief in their teams.

They create a culture of motivation consistent with the organizations purpose, vision, and values..

Points for Reflection: how are you seen as a leader?

What is your think/say ratio? Do you constructively and courageously say what you are thinking? Or do you hold back? Are you aware of the occasions you hold back from speaking courageously?

What is your say/do ratio? How frequently do you follow through on what you say you will do?

Which of the “cons” do you feel most comfortable with? Which could you benefit from working on?

“You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.”

— Maya Angelou

Perhaps more importantly: how would your TEAM answer those questions about YOU?

If you’d like some support gaining those insights, consider engaging with Thinking Partners for a 360 Leadership Assessment.

You can learn more here: Thinking Partners Assessments or book a call with Coach Ken to discuss: Book a Call with Coach Ken

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Ken Roseboom

Ken Roseboom is the President of Thinking Partners. He partners with leaders to increase impact, create aligned teams, and deliver better results. He leverages the Alignment process, assessment tools, expert coaching, and years of front line leadership experience to support his clients.