What Ferrari and Bentley Can Teach You about High Performance Cultures


Building a high performance culture requires focus, dedication, and a relentless drive to make the organization function at peak levels. Can you transform your organization into a high performance culture?

Today’s post is by Hugh Blane, President of Claris Consulting and author of 7 Principles of Transformational Leadership (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

It was one of the most thrilling moments in my life. I was doing 187 miles per hour at the Porsche racing school in what is best described as a rocket ship built on four wheels. The engine, only a few inches from my head, pounded in my chest as if I was receiving CPR, and the trees flew by so fast that they were no longer trees, but more a blurry green swatch of color out of the corner of my right eye.

I came to learn how to drive fast. Learning the subtle nuances of shifting gears, acceleration and braking vastly improved my lap time and left me with a greatly enhanced mindset behind the wheel.

High performance cars are similar to high performance cultures. You can choose to drive a car that is purely functional transportation, or you can choose to drive a car that is one part engineering masterpiece, one part handcrafted artwork, and one part a catalyst for supreme exhilaration.

Every leader should look at their culture as a Ferrari sitting in their driveway and recognize that the keys are in their hand. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of you, the level of intimidation about a Ferrari’s performance leaves the car looking good but not driven to its potential.

Driving a culture that is the equivalent of a finely tuned sports car requires embracing five high performance mindset shifts. They are:

High performance cultures are hand built.

Not unlike Ferraris, Bentleys and Lamborghinis, cultures are made with painstaking attention to detail by master craftspeople. Engineers pour over specifications in the hopes of eliminating tiny imperfections, while marketing and customer care representatives create experiences that are exhilarating and rewarding.

Organizational cultures are handcrafted and never an off the shelf idea culled from a leadership book. It is crafted with an uncompromising and meticulous passion for a compelling future. A future that outperforms your competition, builds customer loyalty and commitment, and leaves you in a category of one.

High performance cultures are customer-centric.

All of the car manufacturers I’ve mentioned know their customers inside and out. They have painstakingly thought through every aspect of the ownership experience and engineered it to thrill and exhilarate at every corner.

Cultures that strive to thrill their customers, as well as their employees, will have customers speed toward them. If you are not thrilling the customers that matter most to you they will drive toward your competitors.

High performance cultures perform at higher speeds.

Regardless of whether you agree that a Bentley Continental GT needs to hit tops speeds of 197 mph is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the automobile achieves these speeds with unparalleled composure and safety.

Cultures are the same. Are you traveling on the autobahn at top speed, or, are you on a two-lane back road driving thirty-five miles per hour? In today’s world of hyper connectivity and access to information in seconds, traveling thirty-five miles an hour will leave you obsolete and irrelevant.

High performance cultures require better car handling skills.

Creating a handcrafted culture that thrills customers and accelerates performance requires better car handling skills. Specifically, every leader must embrace the admonition from racecar driver Mario Andretti who said, “If everything feels like it’s under control you’re simply not going fast enough.”

Gone are the days of having everything under control. The race for accelerated performance requires you to build a culture that is capable of balancing itself on the razor’s edge of the known and predictable along with the unknown and uncharted. This leaves some proclaiming they’re going too fast. If you’re a leader and not hearing this, you’re not going fast enough.

Cultures cannot be purchased on the cheap.

High-performance cultures require you pay a premium. You cannot take a stock minivan to the racetrack and expect to be competitive. You have to invest a premium either in purchasing a car designed for the racetrack, or to convert your current car into a competitor.

If you’re not willing to make the investment in creating a high-performance culture then you will be relegated to being at the back of the pack and never being competitive.

Creating a high performance culture does not require you buy a Bentley. It does require that you buy-in to the five mindset shifts above and to move toward the same belief that W.O. Bentley had when he started Bentley automobiles. He said: “We will build a fast car, a good car, the best in its class.” Here’s to fast, good and best in class cars and cultures.

7 Principles of Transformational Leadership

Hugh Blane is President of Claris Consulting. He is the author of 7 Principles of Transformational Leadership: Create Mindset of Passion, Innovation and Growth (CLICK HERE to get your copy) and is the globally recognized performance expert hired to help organizations solve challenging business issues, strengthen personal and professional relationships, and execute on strategic initiatives faster and more reliably.

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