Do you have a great workplace culture?

Maybe you do, and maybe you don’t. Some workplace cultures are truly excellent, while others are utterly lousy. My perspective, based on years of experience as an executive leadership coach, is that most company cultures fall somewhere in the mediocre-to-good range—not bad by any means, but also not great.

Good vs. Great Cultures

A recent article from Gallup makes a similar point, asserting that these middling company cultures are prevalent—and that they exist because leaders simply don’t know how to do any better.

These company cultures are “well-meaning,” Gallup suggests, but don’t have a clear sense of how to transform themselves. “So they do what is easy — they deliver ‘satisfaction’ to the troops. Latte machines and volleyball and flex hours and so forth. These are fine — but they have no statistical relationship to creating new customers.”

So how do you build a great culture—one that empowers team members and helps bring new customers into the fold? According to Gallup, “You have to believe any star team leader, on any given day, can create new customers and save the company with an idea or breakthrough.”

A true team dynamic can only be attained when there’s a strong leader in place. “Remarkably, 70 percent of the variance between lousy, good and great cultures can be found in the knowledge, skills and talent of the team leader,” Gallup says. “Not the players, but the team leader.”

Transform Your Culture Today

The Gallup article goes on to make a few recommendations—basic principles to take a culture from that mediocre-to-good territory to true greatness. Let me summarize them:

  1. Change your leadership philosophy. Rather than try to micromanage and control, try to empower, to develop team members according to their strengths. Gallup describes this leadership style as “high development, high purpose and strengths-based coaching.”
  2. Make structural changes. Specifically, change your expectations for team managers. Make it a priority for them to actively coach their employees, and to touch base with them at least once weekly.
  3. Get buy-in from the Board/executive leadership team. Let them know you’re moving from a controlling leadership style to an empowering one—and that you’re doing so, ultimately, because you believe that’s how to grow the company.

That may sound like a tall order, but it’s achievable—especially when you consult with an executive leadership coach.