I have finished reading The Talent Lab and am halfway through @Imsporticus’s recommendation of Team of Teams and have been reflecting and thinking about ‘high performance culture’ and how we can build, nurture and develop this in teams and schools.
Culture is a varied term and one that is often bandied about in terms of coaching, leadership and performance but very difficult to define, create and even harder to maintain. In terms of defining culture,
The Business Directory define it as:
‘Broadly, social heritage of a group (organized community or society). It is a pattern of responses discovered, developed, or invented during the group's history of handling problems, which arise from interactions among its members, and between them and their environment. These responses are considered the correct way to perceive, feel, think, and act, and are passed on to the new members through immersion and teaching. Culture determines what is acceptable or unacceptable, important or unimportant, right or wrong, workable or unworkable. It encompasses all learned and shared, explicit or tacit, assumptions, beliefs, knowledge, norms, and values, as well as attitudes, behaviour, dress, and language.’
For us, simply defining it is not possible, as it is constantly flowing and ebbing and in need of constant nurture and maybe having worked through this blog I may be closer in terms of a definition! In terms of high performing teams – culture is often the stand out feature and as Owen Slot explored in The Talent Lab, a key building block in our Olympic success in both the London and Rio games.
So how do we develop a high performance culture? Our first attempt at modelling this lead to us distilling what we felt were the key building blocks of a high performance culture and creating The Temple of High Performance. These were Transformational Leadership at ALL levels, Context, Alignment & Challenge and Trust and these will be explored in more depth in a moment. These are all built on deep foundations of well-being, reflecting on ‘how can we do it better?’, climate and values. Without these building blocks in place, high performance can only be dreamed of.
*As I am half way through reading Team of Teams, I would suggest ‘adaptability’ as an essential pillar too!
Transformational Leadership at All Levels:
Alignment & Challenge:
These are all built upon making wellbeing, values and the climate the absolute foundations of the team. If we ignore wellbeing, we do so at our peril, as high performance culture requires the team to be in excellent health, both physical and emotional and requires high levels of resilience, relentlessness and adaptability.
Values and climate are absolutely connected – ‘that’s what we do here’ built upon absolute clarity of ‘why we do it’. The values within the organisation are exemplified and modelled by all and unite to deliver the team goals. Constant reflection is an essential part of this and something that is a constant driver of high performance and extremely powerful in a high performance culture.
So, having worked through the Temple of High Performance, each of the pillars are fundamental in their contribution to high performance culture but equally fragile and can be damaged if they are not nurtured. Similarly, individuals in the team are equally robust but easily damaged if not nurtured, which would impact negatively on the high performance culture. However, I strongly believe that if the pillars are built on clear and ‘lived every minute of every day values’ then you have a chance of creating that ‘high performance culture’ that has an enduring legacy of every individual that comes into contact with it.