Archive for September, 2013

Building a High Performance Culture Part V

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Words that Work: Hope, Words that Hurt: Wish

In this fifth post on building a high performance culture I’ll present two additional words to continue building a portrait of both a highly performing, and average-or-below culture. I’ll include one that falls into the “words that work” column of cultural makeup and one that is a word that hurts. For a quick review, I’ve presented the following words that work, and words that hurt, in the four past blog posts to help you weave in the right concepts, values and mindsets and help you identify and weed out those that are harmful:

Words that work:

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Words that hurt:

Fault: responsibility for failure.

To use in a sentence: It’s not my fault I had a bad month. In other words, I’m a victim.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

The new word going into the “works” column is hope; the corresponding word hurting organizational cultures is wish. There’s a significant difference between hoping a person, product or strategy works out and wishing it so. Understanding this difference can save you untold time, energy and financial resources.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

The key difference between these two words—and leadership styles—is “grounds for believing.” Hoping someone or something will work out is based on observable, measurable progress in reasonable time. Without seeing upward movement or improvement you’re not hoping something works out, you’re simply a wishful thinker.

The leaders of high performance cultures don’t base their futures on wishes or good intentions. They practice what Jack Welch famously suggested: “Effective leaders look reality dead in the eye and act upon it with as much speed as they possibly can.” In other words, you must have 20/20 vision when it comes to facing reality concerning poorly performing people, strategies, products, and more. At the end of the day you must ask yourself concerning these aspects: “What grounds for believing do I have that tomorrow is going to be any different than today?” If the answer is “None.” you must protect your culture, brand, credibility, team morale and momentum by moving on.