The difference between you and the direct competitor that is beating you in the marketplace probably isn’t products, services, or price. They don’t hire all geniuses and leave you with the dunces. Their computer systems, compensation, and operational processes are not dramatically better than yours. When they discuss strategy, the words on their flip charts are not significantly more insightful than yours.
The difference is an intangible. It is a culture where every person at every level is focused on and committed to delivering results that are critical for success.
What the Best Do Differently
The dictionary defines “culture” as, “the patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in social groups learn, create, and share.”
In short, culture is the habits your organization displays over time. Habits are built by repeated action. And, actions are driven by the choices you make every day in every area of your business.
The best make different choices, and as a result, they don’t just compete – they dominate their markets. Here are six choices that will enable you to develop a culture that shouts Results Rule!
• Tell yourself the truth and value candor and honesty. Despite our belief that we embrace the cold, hard truth, most of us are guilty of 3D Vision: Denial, Distortion, and Delusion. We deny reality; distort our performance; and delude ourselves into blaming our lousy results on things beyond our control. The cure for 3-D Vision is the continuous search for and acknowledgement of the truth. You don’t have to be brutal. You do have to be relentless and unwavering.
• Pursue the best over the easiest in every situation. This one choice changes every decision you make and action you take – strategy, resource allocation, operational goals, product and service delivery, hiring, information systems, education and training. It sounds easy, but most of us do what is easy rather than what is best.
• Leverage the power of partnerships both internally and externally. Do your customers love you so much they sell for you? Do your employees volunteer their commitment to go beyond the minimum in product quality or service? If you answered no to either question, you are not leveraging the power of partnerships.
• Focus the energy to make the main things the main thing. Processes, metrics, rewards, and performance expectations – these are all tools most organizations use to focus the energy. The challenges is not knowing how to focus but rather knowing on what to focus and maintaining the discipline to stay at it. In today’s world, fundamentals are the minimum. Being distinctive is the difference … if it adds value.
• Learn, grow, and improve every day. The difference between consistent excellence and random brilliance is the ability to learn, grow, and adapt. Past success proves you were right once. Companies that consistently deliver amazing results know that they are only as good as tomorrow’s performance.
• Show the courage of accountability. There is a line from the often-quoted “Unknown” that applies here, “If you really want to do something, you will find a way; if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” Imagine the improvements that would occur in your business if everyone simply accepted accountability for delivering the results that everyone knows are important.
Culture follows performance and behavior, not the other way around. The difference between you and the competitor who is beating you is the discipline to make these choices more often and effectively.
This is not a twelve-step program or a one-year performance objective. Developing and sustaining the culture is an every-day job that lasts for the rest of your life as a leader.
So what are you waiting for? It’s the culture, stupid.