Archive for October, 2013

Building a High Performance Culture Part VI

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Words that Work: Catalyst

In this sixth post on building a high performance culture I’ll present a key word that describes the role of an effective leader. This simple, three syllable word, provides a concise and accurate leadership job description. For a quick review, I’ve presented the following words that work, and words that hurt, in the past five blog posts to help you weave into your culture 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.

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

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.

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

The new word going into the “works” column is the word catalyst, and it is defined as:

A person or thing that makes something happen.

First, note what the definition does not say:

  • A leader going to work to wait for something to happen, watch something happen, or stare bewildered out the window at day’s end and wonder, “What happened?”
  • A leader who asks questions like: “I wonder what kind of day we’ll have today?”, “I wonder how much money we’ll make today?”, or “I wonder what the team will produce today?”

It’s safe to assume that thinking like a catalyst precedes acting like one. Thus, here’s a quick test to evaluate your catalytic mindset. Note many of these questions you ask yourself as you begin work each day:

  • “What can I get started today?”
  • “Whom can I get started today?”
  • “Whom can I leave better than I find today?”
  • “How can I lead by example today?”
  • “What can I do to make a difference today?”

In high performance cultures, the leaders assume the role of a catalyst; and not just during the last five days of the month when time’s running out, they’re backed into a corner and trapped like a rat. Rather, they act as catalysts daily, diligently shaping the culture and energizing their team.