We’ve dug into how to instill core values in a high-performance culture and how values are more than just words on a wall, but what core values can serve as a foundation for many great cultures?
I’ve witnessed many organizations achieve great short-term results at the expense of long-term health and wellness, only to realize later just how unsustainable and toxic their strategies really were.
In my experience, specific core values stand out from the rest when it comes to creating a high-performance culture that’s both healthy and high-performing, and striking this balance isn’t easy. And don’t get me wrong, there’s a big difference between a healthy team and a happy team – mainly in that happy teams rarely achieve great results because they’re so focused on preserving fake harmony. And healthy doesn’t equate to rainbows and butterflies. Quite the opposite in some cases. However, it equates to an environment that handles difficulties with respect and integrity and successes with humility and grace. Here are some inward-facing, team-based core values I’ve seen have incredible success at creating healthy, high-performance culture:
Humility leads to openness, and openness leads to learning. Many organizations have recently started valuing openness, or psychological safety, as google puts it, only to be met with strong egos that play the game and go through the motions. People see through inauthentic behaviours easily and quickly. Humility is a deep-level core value that requires egos to be left at the door, often creating the path for openness and learning to truly occur. It challenges people to see their thoughts and opinions as hypotheses to be tested, not rigid facts to defend at all costs.
Candour is like openness with a bit of salt and pepper on it. It’s certainly about being open and honest, but it’s also about being frank and courageous when doing so. I can’t tell you how many meetings and conversations I’ve been in, knowing the real issues weren’t being discussed. This costs time and money and gradually builds resentment and apathy in everyone. Valuing candour empowers people to level with the group bravely and confidently, ultimately creating more well-rounded conversations and decisions.
#3. Failure (First Attempt In Learning)
The world is giving high praise to those who eventually created the Covid-19 vaccines, and for good reason, but it should also be praising those scientists who tried and failed. The failed attempts at this vaccine are equally as valuable as the final solution in that they taught others what wouldn’t work, and these failures provided a critical compass for all future attempts. Innovation is a popular core value these days, but I’ve seen many organizations say they value innovation and then punish mistakes. How can you innovate without the freedom to fail? You can’t. Like humility, this is a deep-level core value that encourages other desired behaviours like innovation, creativity, and most importantly, learning.
This may seem obvious, but the on-the-ground truth in most organizations tells a different story. It’s still entirely common and acceptable for “leaders” to pin underperformances on those below them to mask their own leadership incompetence. And worse than that, it’s usually deemed acceptable. When this happens, it’s a sign that an organization doesn’t truly value leadership. Where I come from (Olympic sport), the head coach is responsible for the team’s performance, and the buck stops with them. If the team isn’t performing, it’s up to them to own those results and formulate a solution. This is what it means to truly value leadership.
Have you ever blamed unfinished or forgotten tasks on the note-taker in a meeting? If so, your team lacks follow-through (and effective meeting practices)! Follow-through is simply doing what you said you would do in the time frame you said you would do it. People shouldn’t require a personal scribe to follow through on their job. Follow-through is a very compelling core value because it puts accountability on each individual to stay sharp and fulfil their role. Without follow-through, people repeatedly get distracted and derailed trying to manage everybody else.
About the author
Bryce Tully, Chief Executive Officer at innerlogic.
He holds a master’s degree in Sport Psychology from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He has worked as a Mental Performance Consultant with various Canadian Olympic teams for over a decade, including a most recent appearance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Bryce’s mission is to create the world’s best high-performance culture management experience and help organizations worldwide reap the tremendous benefits of enhancing and building their culture.