Successful Team Performance requires a highly integrated and finely balanced combination of Culture, Strategy and Execution. They are the Sacred 3.

Culture – the sum of individual behaviour.  Specific behaviour will drive or stop success.  It starts with the Leadership team!

Strategy – Strategy is setting clearly defined goals, defining the specific actions to achieve the goals, and ensuring your people are equipped to execute the actions.

Execution – What discipline do we have in place to make goals clear, to bring clarity to the activity that drives the goals, and how to build individual accountability.

If you have a challenging objective, you will not reach that objective or your potential without improving all three: Culture, Strategy & Execution.  

Over the next 3 weeks we describe how.


Culture is critical because it is about behaviour and success demands a specific set of behaviours. The problem arises when the team culture you currently have does not match the culture you need for success.

As advisers and consultants, frankly, we ignored this for many years (we don’t anymore !).  We began to realize some clients were far more successful at adopting our execution discipline than others.  We also realized that upon our first workshop with the client leadership team…we could “sense” quite quickly whether they would be successful or not.  Why ? How ?

Let us explain…Culture is nothing more than the sum of individual behaviour of people in any team or organisation….whether we are talking about a sales team, an international bank, a government department, an oil rig or an IT start-up. Guess whose behaviour has most impact on the success of the whole organization ?  THE LEADERSHIP TEAM ! 

We have seen these sorts of behaviours in Leadership teams:

–       Individuals talking over the top of each other
–       Leaders consistently arriving late to key meetings.. (or not attending at all)
–       No cadence to how LT meetings are conducted ie agenda, duration, regularity
–       Leaders actively ignoring or undermining company wide decisions
–       Silo behaviour
–       Open dislike, disdain for one another
–       Back stabbing (even to external consultants)
–       No debate
–       Cliques formed  – favorites get more “air time” & “CEO time”
–       Decision “paralysis” or “fuzziness” (did we just agree to something?)
–       Key team decisions made with poor or zero communication
–       Individuals more concerned about their own success…than company success
–       The most frustrating of all:  CEO’s that tolerate all of the above !!!!!!!!!

We have developed a saying “A whisper at the top…becomes a shout at the bottom!”  Whatever desirable or undesirable behaviour has become the norm in your organization is a direct result of what the Leadership team accept, or don’t accept.

The best example we have seen of the adverse impact a Leadership team can have if they are not culturally aligned or cohesive is this 2 min video from the best selling author & consultant – Pat Lencioni:

We are not trying to be the “know it all” consultant here…we know some of this stuff can appear tough to change and that every organization struggles with maintaining or building culture to some degree or another.  It’s a bit like physical health – the only wrong place to be is not focused on it at all.

How to Improve Culture

1.     Start with the Leadership Team (you do have one don’t you?)
2.     Be crystal clear on what “we will do” and what “we will not do”
3.     Develop a team habit of talking regularly about Culture, Strategy & Execution (with everyone in LT present…not just in groups of 2 or 3).
4.     Do NOT outsource culture – the buck starts & stops with the CEO.  Not L&D or HR.
Here are a mix of client Leadership team decisions of what “we will do” and what “we will not do”

1.     Performance will always be first, BUT, it has to be fun.
2.     We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We do not tolerate BS!
3.     We will not work in silos. We are interdependent. Everyone is critical to success.
4.     We do not feel entitled. We appreciate everything we have.
5.     We work extremely hard but we do not allow burnout.
6.     We leave ‘egos’ and ‘baggage’ at the door.
7.     We recruit and train to the highest standard & We hire and fire on results

Have a great week!

Mark Bragg & Martin West

Acknowledgement – Pat Lencioni youtube video:  Building a Cohesive Leadership Team