8 Foundations for Building a Winning Culture

What Drives Your Leadership?

As a leader, my desire has always been to help encourage each person to achieve greater success, while building a winning culture and dynamic team. I believe that both are achievable if you focus on creating a workplace where people want to be, a mission they are passionate about, and a place where they are nurtured to be their best.

Throughout my career in management, I’ve experienced a wide range of unique situations and I’ve tried to learn from both the positive and negative experiences. There have been things I wish I could do over and others that I was surprised at how well they worked out. I also learned that what worked in the past may not work the next time around. However, with each team I managed, I found that these are consistent and key fundamentals to building a winning work culture.

1. Building a winning culture starts with trust

I find that most people just want the opportunity to show others they can do the job without someone standing over them telling them how to do it. They want the freedom to get their work done without being micromanaged.

Tell your team your expectations, setting clear goals and deadlines, without telling them how you would do it. Trust is empowering and it’s an effective way to build genuine confidence within your team. Full potential can be more quickly achieved through trust than through handholding.

2. Communication

Building a winning culture can only be achieved with honest and consistent communication. It can be as simple as letting people know you are going to be late for a meeting, or as big as telling someone you can’t fulfill a job assignment on time. A team has to know what is happening as a group in order for it to move in sync.

People can truly help each other hit goals more quickly if they understand the strengths and weaknesses of each other. You can’t know what is going on in someone else’s head unless you’re sharing your thoughts together. Expectations, deadlines, and targets that are not clearly communicated on a team cannot be achieved. Onboarding Microsoft Teams has been a great tool for our company to keep communication open.

3. Accountability

Taking ownership means being accountable to both managers and peers. Each team member has a specific purpose and their clients, as well as their team, are depending on them to complete their share of the responsibilities. In order to reach team success, each person must earn his or her way, and accountability helps the whole group have confidence in each person’s ability to fulfill their role effectively.

Giving honest consistent feedback on where team members stand on their performance is a part of accountability as well. It may not always be positive, but the only way to be better is through evaluation. Each person needs to be willing to grow and change if they are to be successful.

4. Teamwork

One person can’t do it all. Some might think they can, and even try, but it’s impossible. You never see a quarterback go on the field alone. He’s accompanied by a running back, guards, tackles, a center, a tight end, and wide receivers. It takes eleven people to score a touchdown in football.

The key to building a winning culture is having a team that is made up of individuals with a variety of strengths. When they work together, using their different skillsets your team will be successful. They must believe in each other and perform and excel in their own specific role in order for the team to move together and win.

5. Sacrifice

Anything worth doing well takes work and sacrifice. I’ve watched many of my team members give up their personal time in a variety of ways in order to hit their goals. There’s a personal drive inside of them that pushes them to give up things they would like to do in order to get their tasks completed.

I’ve also watched people sacrifice time to support others in order to see them grow. The willingness to sacrifice for another’s benefit is a true example of servanthood and it screams of a winning culture.

6. Passion

Emotion creates motion! I truly believe that if you are going to do something, do it in a manner that will impact others in a great way. Don’t just do a task to cross it off the list. Showing passion and commitment to your team and in your work will create a positive, uplifting environment for everyone.

I’m not talking about being entertaining. You need to be genuinely passionate because others can see through you when you’re not. The biggest benefit will be when it becomes contagious, not only throughout your organization, but to your customers as well.

7. Respect

As a part of the human race, we all want to know we are valued and respected, regardless of our position or status. The most fundamental way to show respect is by listening. All of us want to be heard. We must be willing to respect each other’s opinions and viewpoints in order to create a safe environment to lay the groundwork for building a winning culture.

Respect also comes from caring, so it’s important to build at team that cares for one another. Asking simple questions like “how is your day?” or “how can I help?” will start to develop caring that leads to mutual respect. Taking time to involve yourself in the lives of others really makes a difference. As the saying goes, “Don’t treat others how you want to be treated, treat them how they want to be treated.”

8. Fun

This ended up as #8, but I really wanted to put it at #1! Some may not see the workplace as a place of fun, but I disagree. People want to laugh, smile and enjoy life – especially at work – where they spend a huge chunk of their time. If I can create a team that knows how to have fun, then it changes their view of “work”. They look forward to coming in every morning and they come with a positive attitude. That leads to trust, communication, and respect… have we come full circle here? I really should have made this #1!

I love to hear the words “You’re crazy!” with a laugh behind it. That makes me feel good because I know I helped someone get relief from the pressure of doing their job. I enjoy making a big deal of saying thank you, congratulations, and rewarding people’s often-unseen efforts to make them smile and enjoy being here.

I took my role as president of CCB because I wanted to create a culture where people could say “I love where I work!” And helped to launch IOL because I believe in the power of excellent leadership.  I love my family, but every Monday I am thrilled to come back to work because even as president, I enjoy being here. Sure, it’s not all fun, but overall I love what I do and who I work with because we all work together to make it enjoyable.

Building a winning culture takes time, patience, and commitment to investing in people. I firmly believe that life goes by too fast to not enjoy where we work, whom we work with, and what we do!

Need more? 

Check out the IOL YouTube channel and connect with IOL on LinkedIn

Listen to episode #88 Selfless Leadership with Lt. Governor of Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes
Connect with me directly on Linkedin, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog!

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