A Sustainable Culture Happens by Design

What a month it has been!

On Friday, February 1st, we hosted our Second Annual Leadership Summit in Austin, Texas.

This month’s blog is to say thank you to all who joined us and to give those who couldn’t make it a taste of what we did, in hopes you will join us next year.

This year’s event focused on dealing effectively with some of the critical behaviors that are required to sustain a high performing culture.

When it comes to culture, you can’t exactly fake it ‘til you make it.

A sustainable Culture is one of those things that happens by design.

We regularly come back to this simple formula when we partner with companies to develop their company culture…

Performance is a function of behavior,
Behavior is a function of culture/reality.

The best way to understand how this impacts your organization’s performance (as well as your own) is to get a little “out there”.

Let’s start with … “what you and I think is real, isn’t” …let that sink in a minute.

Dr. Jorge Martins de Oliveira, a neurologist, breaks down why our perception doesn’t really match reality.

“Our perception does not identify the outside world as it really is, but the way that we are allowed to recognize it, as a consequence of transformations performed by our senses.

We experience electromagnetic waves, not as waves, but as images and colors. We experience vibrating objects, not as vibrations, but as sounds. We experience chemical compounds dissolved in air or water, not as chemicals, but as specific smells and tastes.

Colors, sounds, smells, and tastes are products of our minds, built from sensory experiences. They do not exist, as such, outside our brain. Actually, the universe is colorless, odorless, insipid and silent.”

What he said is what we just said…, “what you think is real…isn’t.”

This means that a lot of what you deal with when it comes to creating a high-performing culture is all in your head.

As Dr. Einstein said…“All reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one!”

How does this relate to my company culture?

When you start to consider that your reality is something your mind creates, you can begin to uncover methods to change this reality.

You and I create perceptions and interpretations of people and of the world.

Once you believe these interpretations are true, they become your default reality.

It’s the same process that allows your brain to go on “autopilot” while driving long distances. This is, historically, a pretty successful operating system that allows you to move through the world without extreme mental fatigue.

The key to sustaining high performance is raising your level of awareness.

Our general success at running our lives on autopilot gives us the false impression that we are present and operating successfully.

Truly sustaining high performance takes recognizing that the conversation steadily running through your mind, aka the “Narrator”, is not a kind of thinking.

This narrator is merely an overriding dialogue that critiques you, others, the world around you, and all that you do. That attitude doesn’t sound like someone a high performer would want to keep on their team…

This “Narrator” leads us to find cause beyond ourselves in all matters, such that one feels like a victim of circumstances.

When you’re in a victim mindset you are unable to recognize your accountability in everything that happens.

In contrast, when you are aware of your response, you are awake and in charge of the outcome.

The “Narrator” influences how you listen, and not in a good way…
When you listen through a filter of what you think is real you end up judging and assessing…in this instance, you are actually listening through the “Narrators” view. You can also think of this as listening from “self”.

You have the option to listen from “the other” point of view.

This requires awareness and an effort to listen and truly hear what is being said, as well as the intent behind the communication.

We call this type of listening the foundation of connection. A strong culture has a foundation of connection that begins with truly listening and mindfully hitting “mute” on that “Narrator’s” judgy point of view.

The common thread is personal accountability

This is accountability for your results, for your impact on others, and how you work within an enterprise.

Everything you do in the workplace is done in a network of people and you influence the efficacy of the network with your behavior.

Accountability for high performance brings a new distinction to trust

As trust goes up in an organization, so does productivity. If trust goes down, costs rise.

It’s important to avoid power dynamics here. You don’t want a set of people who grant trust, while others have to earn it. This makes you a victim of another person’s behavior.

Trust is your accountability. This means you must grant it, and then take accountability for maintaining it.

If trust ever starts to falter, you are responsible for initiating conversations to fix it when you begin to question your trust in another’s actions.

A healthy culture means you’re in for some challenging conversations
It’s hard at first, but like any muscle you flex, it will get easier.

There is, thankfully, a framework for having these big conversations.

The guidelines for successful conversations:

  • Lead with a declaration of your positive intent in the conversation
  • Explain the facts as you understand them, being accountable is based on your understanding
  • Share the impact of it, (on you, others, the organization?)
  • Work to a mutual resolution (dialogue), reaffirm partnership

Yes, all of this was a LOT, jammed into 2 ½ hours and shared here as a high-level overview, we can go SO much deeper if you’re interested.

Regardless, these are critical tools that will help you on your way, and we always welcome a call or email to discuss further. We are open source and share freely!

As always, I would love to hear about any challenges you’re going through with your culture and share how we can help. You can reply to this email, or just give us a call!

Have a productive and satisfying month!


Event Takeaways

Our guests kindly shared their feedback after our leadership summit, and what some of their key takeaways were.

Below are a few we found compelling.
“Own your own actions, be accountable”

“Trust is a choice. We judge others’ behavior but want others to judge us by intention”

“That I am responsible for shaping outcomes”

“Listening with curiosity helps unveil blindspots”

“You can’t assume another person’s intentions”

“Conversations can be difficult. I am in control of my perspective. I can be more accountable. I can change my environment by changing my reality.”

“Be curious, be aware, listen first to what others are feeling, everyone deserves undivided attention, don’t get stuck on being right, you have a choice in your reality”

“Personal accountability focus on yourself first, build trust by choosing to trust”



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