The First Two Steps in Building a Winning Culture

“Regardless of what people say they value or believe, what actually shows up in their behavior is the best indication of the true culture.”

– David Friedman

Creating and maintaining a strong company culture is perhaps one of the best ways to accelerate performance. Upcoming Vistage event speaker, author and former CEO, David Friedman, is no stranger to building an organized and successful culture. Under his leadership, RSI, an award-winning employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm, was named one of the Best Places to Work in the region seven times and was named one of the Fastest Growing companies four times. Among Friedman’s many leadership strategies, the Eight Step Framework, a method for organizing and institutionalizing your company’s values, is likely the most prominent. Though all eight steps are essential, the first two steps of this framework are two of the most foundational.

First, you must define the sort of culture you are trying to create. It’s impossible to jump start a culture you can’t even put into words. So, one of the best things you can do is just that, dictate and describe the sort of behaviors and fundamentals you wish to thrive. This isn’t necessarily “visions, missions, and values,” but rather clarifying the type of successful environment you envision and allowing you and your employees to internalize inhabit those behaviors. Having a clear definition of your desired culture is the bedrock of this process.

Second, establish rituals that will help you maintain your desired performance. Repetition is key in this area. Most of the time, especially in long stretches, will power and motivation tricks can waver, thus potentially disrupting your desired behaviors. Having rituals that are institutional in your culture can put a backbone in place that more than helps maintain these elements necessary for a high-performance culture.

More details of both these and the final 6 steps can be found in Friedman’s book, Culture by Design, as well as Vistage’s CEO Forum taking place in Orlando, Florida on October 3rd at 7:30 a.m.

Kelly D. Scott
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization