Knowing the behaviors you want from your team and how they link to results is one of the keys to creating a strong culture.
Leaders who create a strong culture of outstanding performance will find that performance strengthens their culture. By strengthening the culture, the likelihood of better results and performance increases. This is known as a virtuous circle.
You need to be careful though—the dynamic works in the opposite direction as well. Bad behavior begets bad performance, which leads to more bad behavior, and ultimately a bad culture. I know one senior executive who always used to ask people, “How much money have you made me today?” That simple question flowed through all the behaviors in the organization. Everyone focused on financials, but it was at the expense of creating a great culture.
Let me share an example of how to build a virtuous circle. I worked with one executive who sat the team down and they created team operating principles. These principles dictated how they would work with each other, their standards of behavior, and how they were going to treat their customers. They went through their goal deployment process and built their balance scorecard. People knew what was expected of them, both in terms of behavior and performance. And that was tied into their goals that they set for the team. As they hit their numbers and drove results, people embodied those principles and strengthened the culture. They stepped up into bigger roles and hit bigger goals. That lead to more success, which in turn, drove better embodiment of the operating principles and the culture they had created. Everyone grew and the team succeeded.
As a leader, know what behaviors you want, how they link to results, and how to take advantage of the positive virtuous circles you can build. When you see bad behavior and performance headed in the wrong direction, step in immediately before it spirals out of control. It’s up to you to determine which direction these circles are going to spin.
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