There are no shortage of theories and examples of what High Performing Cultures are or strategies in how to achieve them. My take on it doesn’t simply focus on the business aspect of this. I believe that the strategies involved can also be applicable to daily life as well. The foundations of any high performance culture be it business, government or social institutions are People, Communication and Trust.
In terms of organisations, good strong dedicated managers that possess intelligence, compassion, knowledge of their respective craft, understanding and wisdom that is used in support of the organisational goals is the essential starting point for a high performance culture. Of all the aforementioned qualities, wisdom is the most coveted. It provides the manager with insight into the organisation in which they serve; those that comprise it as well as an honest and deep understanding of him or herself within the confines of the institution. The Greek maxim “know thyself” should be the mantra of all managers within an organisation. For without this personal understanding – this grounding force, the manager loses his or her way and subsequently the organisations’ along with it.
I have been a part of some very good organisations as well as some very bad ones. A key element in the successful ones have been the awareness by managers of their own strengths and needs or opportunities. A manager’s altruistic ability to clearly understand their role in furthering the organisation’s goals are, in my opinion, an important aspect in driving its culture and subsequently its success. Nothing is more detrimental to a high performing culture of any kind than selfish leadership that is consumed with self-promotion and personal gain. Managers of wisdom and integrity foster strong and trusting environments by setting clear expectations and by encouraging the professional (and personal) development and maturation of those serving within.
If the managers are the foundation for any great organisation, communication is surely its framework. Communication has always been lauded in every organisation that I have been a part of however, “honest”, “respectful” and “open” communication has not always been so readily accepted. What was coached in theory and expected was not exactly what occurred in the real world. Trust me when I say that the hypocrisy was not lost on each and every member within the organisation. The reality that I understood was that communication was important as long as it was comprised of what one wanted to hear. In other words, you may communicate anything you like as long as it was not detrimental to the person you are communicating with or their career.
In order for any organisation or system to flourish there must be candid dialogue about the genuine issues and concerns whether they are professional or personal. This dialogue should be devoid of judgement, fear and ones personal ego. This communication should be conducted in good faith by all parties and with the appropriate levels of confidentiality adhered to. Only in this way can root causes be identified, explored and addressed in good faith. The act of good-faith communication then becomes the perfect segue into the final characteristic or cornerstone of high performing cultures – Trust.
Now if good people or managers are the foundations and communication the framework, then trust is without question what binds them both together cohesively. It serves as the nuts, bolts or rivets in the construction of a high performing culture so to speak. Trust is such a key element that without it you may not be able to establish the foundations of anything whether we are referencing a business, personal relationship, community, etc. It must be an integral part when hiring a manager or for that matter, when considering a potential mate or an elected official to vote for. It must be omnipresent when communicating at all levels of an organisation or within any relationship. Trust in ones own ability and judgement to successfully execute plans within the confines of his or her own sphere of influence is absolutely essential.
If we are to grow and move forward; increase productivity and profitability; cultivate all natural resources conscientiously and responsibly in the pursuit of high performance cultures; then it is absolutely imperative that we focus on the critical foundations of people, communication and trust. These focal points are for business, as it is for any relationship, essential to success and prosperity and worthy of the highest investment.