Four Actions for Leaders to Take to Create a Positive Culture

Jon Gordon is a best-selling author and popular keynote speaker. He works with many corporations and sports organizations. He spoke at a conference in November on the topic of positive leadership.

growing plantsGordon pointed out that leaders create the culture in their organizations. You can’t delegate culture, as a leader. It must come from you.

As a member of an organization, you don’t just HEAR about culture as much as you FEEL it. This is what makes culture so powerful.

Coach Krzyzewski brought the USA Men’s national basketball team to West Point and specifically had them visit the cemetery to help them understand what they represented on behalf of their country.

According to Gordon, here are the actions you can take to create a positive culture.

Start by creating a vision. It must be simple, bold and compelling … not full of jargon.

For example:

  • Dabo Swinney, Head Coach of the Clemson football team, used “15 for 15” throughout the 2015 football season to represent the goal of reaching the national championship game on January 11, 2016.
  • Kim Mulkey, Head Coach of the Baylor Lady Bears basketball team, used “Eight is NOT Enough” throughout the 2015 basketball season to represent the goal of making it to the Final Four (past the Elite Eight) in the NCAA Women’s Tournament last year.

Meet with people 1:1. Gordon said leaders need to use both the telescope (for the big picture) and the microscope (for the daily actions).

Ask questions such as:

  • How can I help you?
  • How can I hold you accountable?

Take time to invest in relationships. Teamwork delivers results. Otherwise, negativity fills the void. We have to slow down to really connect. Connection is where we earn trust. As a leader, don’t be too busy.

Lead with optimism and belief. Leadership is a transfer of belief. We have to instill others with faith, not fear. We’re always facing obstacles. Never give up!

Complaining is a big problem in business today, but as the leader, you can’t be the one to complain.

“When you complain, 80% don’t care and 20% are glad you have problems.” – Lou Holz

Serve those you lead. Don’t do it because you’re busy and stressed. Do it because it is love in action. Too often leaders go into survival mode.

Instead, Gordon challenges leaders to practice gratitude and to remember to be intentional. You show that you care through the little things. You have to serve to be great. That’s what it takes to be elite – you make those around you better.

Betsy Winkler is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1. Sign up to receive the PeopleResults blog at Current.