CEO COACH

HOW DO YOU GET BEST THE BEST FROM YOUR TEAM IN TERMS OF EN­GAGE­MENT, PER­FOR­MANCE AND PROFIT IN A VUCA* EN­VI­RON­MENT?

CEO Middle East - - CONTENTS -

DOES CUL­TURE TRUMP STRAT­EGY IN TERMS OF IM­PACT?

*VO­LATIL­ITY, UN­CER­TAINTY, COM­PLEX­ITY AND AM­BI­GU­ITY

CLEVER STRAT­EGY, SU­PE­RIOR PROD­UCTS, bet­ter peo­ple, cor­po­rate agility, will all sep­a­rate high­est per­form­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions from the rest only if built on some­thing fun­da­men­tal that en­ables a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage to sus­tain and grow over time… cul­ture.

Cul­ture starts with what peo­ple do and how they do it. In any in­dus­try, what peo­ple do may not dif­fer dra­mat­i­cally, but high-per­form­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions dis­tin­guish them­selves in how they do it. This cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect of what is done and how it is done ul­ti­mately de­ter­mines an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s per­for­mance.

Cul­ture also en­com­passes why peo­ple do what they do. As the Ti­tanic’s cap­tain grasped a lit­tle too late on that fate­ful night in 1912, 90 per­cent of an ice­berg’s mass lies be­neath the sur­face. Cul­ture is sim­i­lar as it in­cludes ob­serv­able be­hav­iors (the what and how, above the sur­face) as well as ev­ery­thing un­der­neath – the shared mind­sets and be­liefs that in­flu­ence how peo­ple in an or­gan­i­sa­tion be­have. Just like a cap­tain nav­i­gat­ing frigid wa­ters, any­one try­ing to un­der­stand an or­gan­i­sa­tion’s cul­ture must recog­nise that most of what mat­ters can­not be read­ily seen.

Thus, cul­ture is the com­mon set of be­hav­iours and un­der­ly­ing mind­sets and be­liefs that shape how peo­ple work and in­ter­act day-to-day.

WHY CUL­TURE MAT­TERS IT COR­RE­LATES WITH PER­FOR­MANCE

Based on our re­search of over 1,000 or­gan­i­sa­tions that en­com­pass more than three mil­lion in­di­vid­u­als, those with top quar­tile cul­tures (as mea­sured by our Or­ga­ni­za­tional Health In­dex) post a re­turn to share­hold­ers 60 per­cent higher than me­dian com­pa­nies and 200 per­cent higher than those in the bot­tom quar­tile.

IT IS DIF­FI­CULT TO COPY

The quick­en­ing pace of in­no­va­tion means that prod­ucts and busi­ness mod­els face the con­stant threat of be­ing repli­cated. In this en­vi­ron­ment, the ul­ti­mate com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage is a healthy cul­ture that adapts au­to­mat­i­cally to chang­ing con­di­tions to find new ways to suc­ceed.

IT EN­ABLE OR­GAN­I­SA­TIONS TO ADAPT

In a world where the one con­stant is change, cul­ture be­comes even more im­por­tant be­cause or­gan­i­sa­tions with

high-per­form­ing cul­tures thrive on change. The con­verse also holds true: Un­healthy cul­tures do not re­spond well to change. Re­search shows that 70 per­cent of trans­for­ma­tions fail, and 70 per­cent of those fail­ures are due to cul­ture-re­lated is­sues.

UN­HEALTHY CUL­TURES LEAD TO UN­DER­PER­FOR­MANCE

Over time, not only do un­healthy cul­tures foster lack­lus­ter per­for­mance, but they can be your un­do­ing. Daily head­lines at­test, cul­ture can bring cor­po­rate giants to their knees.

How to cre­ate health­ier and high­er­per­form­ing cul­tures – is there­fore worth ex­plor­ing as it can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween profit and loss. Take the lead from sports like ath­let­ics, cy­cling or team sports like Rugby. Teams that do the ba­sics well excel when the pres­sure is on. They are able to come to­gether, de­fault to a pat­tern of con­sis­tent be­hav­iours and play that works for them, they know they can de­liver and it’s a strat­egy that pays off in the long run.

Sports teams also talk all the time about the 1% ef­fect. The 1% ef­fect is the cu­mu­la­tive ef­fect of mak­ing a 1% dif­fer­ence in mul­ti­ple ar­eas adds up. Take For­mula One for ex­am­ple. A 1% weight sav­ing can make 0.1 sec­ond dif­fer­ence in lap times. Each me­chanic work­ing 1% faster can make a 10% dif­fer­ence in pit stops. The UK cy­cling team adopted a 1% mind­set prior to the 2012 Lon­don Olympics re­sult­ing in their most suc­cess­ful games ever.

The best and most con­sis­tent sports team in the world are the New Zea­land All Blacks. They talk about their cul­ture and their code al­most like their DNA. They have a de­fault po­si­tion and in­ner strength, plus they know each other’s strengths and weak­nesses and can sup­port each other at any time.

In a work en­vi­ron­ment you need or­gan­i­sa­tional agility and the abil­ity to adapt to an ever-chang­ing fluid mar­ket, busi­ness sit­u­a­tion, and/or shift in macroe­co­nomic sen­ti­ment in the po­lit­i­cal world.

The main prob­lem in busi­ness is that we only mea­sure what we can see, ie: Re­sults, profit and in­come. If you are lucky, you may be look­ing or vaguely aware of, lead­er­ship and team be­hav­iours and the im­pact on per­for­mance.

These are NOT your val­ues. Val­ues are suggested but not im­plicit and the way your team and com­pany act out those val­ues are be­hav­iours.

HOW DO YOU DRIVE BE­HAV­IOURS?

You need to look un­der the sur­face at what you can­not see. We now know, via the lat­est re­search at Har­vard Med­i­cal School and via ap­plied neu­ro­science, that in­di­vid­ual and team be­hav­iours are led and in­flu­enced by how you think and feel, your emo­tions, and even your phys­i­ol­ogy.

If you want a great team and com­pany, you need highly func­tion­ing hu­man be­ings, like cor­po­rate ath­letes. If you don’t fuel them, train them, or help them to rest and re­cover, you will have a sub­stan­dard, dis­en­gaged, un­mo­ti­vated group of in­di­vid­u­als, not func­tion­ing as a team, and no cor­po­rate cul­ture – and it’s not about gym mem­ber­ship and bowls of fruit or yoga classes.

Matthew Lewis is a Dubai based ex­ec­u­tive search ex­pert, and a Part­ner with Boy­den. He is a cer­ti­fied CEO and lead­er­ship coach and a 25-year stu­dent of lead­ers, lead­er­ship, hu­man be­hav­ior and ex­ec­u­tive per­for­mance and is con­duct­ing his PhD re­search in the field of ap­plied neu­ro­science and its im­pact on lead­er­ship per­for­mance.

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