Creating a positive culture without sacrificing accountability to results

A lot of leaders can create a place where it’s fun to work

A lot of leaders can lead their team to achieving results

Very few can do both

Follow these 5 steps to create a positive, accountable culture

  1. Hire people who are inherently accountable.

    I remember my first management class in college when the professor asked us “how do you motivate people”. We gave him all sorts of answers, to which he replied, “You can’t motivate anyone. They have to BE motivated”.  Shortly after that, one of the great football coaches of that era, Lou Holtz, was asked, “How do you have such a motivated team”. His response was priceless. “Motivation is easy. You just get rid of unmotivated players”.    All you can do as a leader is to create an environment where already accountable (motivated) people will thrive. You can’t CREATE motivated people, but you can FIND them.  So go FIND them.

  2. Establish price of success and price of failure early

    Any great coach manages his team to the ultimate objective. A championship.  With that, comes the commitment from the team to join the coach on that crusade. Where coaches fail is in asking the team the next question. “If you are as committed as I am to winning, are you as committed to making the necessary changes and adjustments to accomplish that objective”? When you ask that question to your team, and you gain their agreement, you will rarely get pushback from your team when you make tough decisions. Think about how Tom Brady of the New England Patriots handles Bill Belichek’s constant personnel decisions.  He stays aligned with the coach, because he knows every decision is made with winning in mind. We will win or we will change.

  3. Measure and report results, but coach process

    Never back down from reporting results. Some will tell you that it is all about the process. That’s wrong. It’s about winning, and the results matter. Keep the measuring stick in front of the team at all times. That said, wins and losses are a result of process management and coaching.  30 years ago, Eliyahu Goldratt wrote a book entitled “The Goal”. It has now sold over 4 million copies and the premise of the book is that you don’t improve results by sitting at the end of the production line.  You improve results by fixing, optimizing, maximizing and improving the production line.  The “production line” is the process in your business.  Fix those, report the results.

  4. Straight talk is critical

    Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you told them.  Not only is straight talk critical, EARLY straight talk is vital. When you establish a culture of straight talk early in any business relationship, then you have established culture immediately. And if you chose the right people who hold themselves accountable, they wouldn’t want it any other way. Whenever the finest athletes, business people, or actors fail, their normal response is to say, “it was my fault. That one is on me. I own that”. The worst of the above deflect blame.   Losing hurts great people as much as it hurts you as the coach.  Great people  relish in the accountability, either way.  The right people want straight talk, so give it to them.

  5. Celebrate wins, make decisions on failure

    Highly accountable people like to win, and they deserve the right to celebrate.  Interestingly, I have found that they only want to celebrate real victories, not fake ones.  It’s like the baseball player refusing to pop champagne for winning the division because they only want to celebrate the World Series.  Nothing will destroy performance quicker than celebrating false wins.  Make your celebrations real, about real wins.  When you lose, change. Fast. When you have chosen the wrong person, the wrong strategy, wrong tactics, change. Change now.  Nothing will create culture on your team quicker than them watching you make changes, quickly.