Creating a “Winning” Culture

By Song Woo, Contributor

When taking over a new leadership post, there’s nothing more important than to create an environment with the proper attitude.  The great thing about being a leader is that you are empowered to set
the attitude of your office, to create a certain culture if you will.  Sure, every company has a certain philosophy and mission that drives the objectives of each business. However, from company to company you can see distinct subcultures that drive each business; this is the culture that I’m referring to.

Like a thumbprint, every business is different in this manner. Nonetheless, the one common theme you’ll see in high performing companies is a winning culture. It is crucial to develop a winning culture right from the start and the foundation for a winning culture starts with the right attitude.  Here are three points to help set the right tone:

  • Set high goals. Do you think Tiger Woods goes into a golf tournament shooting for second or third place? Of course not. He plays to win. It doesn’t matter if he’s injured, sick, or dealing with personal problems.  His mentality is to win every time he competes.  So should you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s the end of the world if you don’t win or reach your goal every time, but if you set low standards, you are never going to maximize your full potential.
  • Create a competitive environment. Competing also becomes habit forming. The more you compete, the more you want to compete. It’s difficult to create a winning environment if you’re not challenged or if competition is nonexistent. Most of the people we hire into our company are highly competitive individuals. So why not feed off this trait in a positive manner? Challenge your team. Challenge them in a way that fits their personality, and have fun with it. For example, at one point, sales at our firm started to hit a lag for a few weeks where we weren’t hitting our weekly goals. So I challenged the team. The challenge was if we exceeded our goal I would buy lunch for the team at the end of every week in which we exceeded our goal. On the other hand, if we did not, they would buy me lunch instead. It wasn’t a one-sided challenge, I made sure they had something at stake as well to get their competitive juices flowing. Sure enough, after a couple of weeks of them having to fork out some cash to buy me lunch, we started exceeding our goals consistently once again. This example is nothing earth-shattering or ingenious, but it is a good fun example to illustrate what a little competition can create.
  • Keep setting new standards. Hitting milestones are great, but don’t feel like you can let up once you meet your goal. Continue to challenge yourselves. Do you think the New England Patriots are content with winning the Super Bowl last season? Probably not; their goal this year is to repeat. That is the mentality you need in order to sustain growth. Don’t be complacent.

There is nothing worse than a losing mentality. In sports, nobody wants to play for bad teams because of the losing culture that surrounds their organization. It’s the same in business. If you accept mediocrity, it will manifest itself down to the rest of the group and your team will settle for mediocrity. All of a sudden, mediocrity becomes the norm and the bar has been lowered.  If you don’t want this to happen, constantly drive a winning attitude. As Vince Lombardi put it, “Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”

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