Creating a culture that enables challenge

Written by
Pete Lowe

07 Dec 2017

07 Dec 2017 • by Pete Lowe

Hierarchical organisations where the power dynamic is inherently ‘top - down’ are pretty widespread. Creating consistency of culture and clear lines of responsibility are helpful but, in order to grow and achieve your full potential, you need to accept that good ideas aren’t restricted to the c-suite. 

Where all think alike, nothing changes

How many times have you heard the phrase “This is how we’ve always done it.” It might seem harmless, but if nobody ever challenged it then it could actually render an organisation defunct. Innovation brings relevance to an ever-changing society, so the question we should be continually asking is: “How can we make this even better?”

When you challenge people’s perspectives it creates a healthy learning environment that naturally stimulates fresh ideas and it brings valuable energy and impetus. 

Dream big

Inherent within a winning mindset is the capacity to dream big. Dreams don’t need editing or cutting back to make them more ‘manageable’ for they are the momentum behind which positive change is achieved.

When a leader stifles his or her team, they place limitations on them which deters them from thriving and fulfilling their full potential. This might not be a deliberate move on a leader’s part, but even if it’s an unconscious act, it is coming from a place of fear and not positivity.

 When you’re on top of your game - change it

The most successful teams, like businesses, recognise that life is a moving picture and that when you win once, it doesn’t justify sustained success. The key to a winning mindset is knowing that change is inevitable. As soon as you stand still or get complacent, you are effectively falling behind. I use the term ‘move to improve’ with my clients as it has a sense of kinetic energy. It’s a simple reminder that wins can happen by chance, but there is a much greater likelihood of consistent success if you develop a leadership culture which embraces innovation and new ideas. 

Failure as a springboard for success

When you create a culture that invites people to bring new ideas and have healthy debate it is incredibly powerful. It also makes it a ‘safe’ environment for people to try new approaches without worrying about the risk of failure or blame. Fear-based cultures view failure as a ‘no go area’ whereas strong leaders recognise that failure is a natural by-product of innovation and entrepreneurialism. Mistakes can be our biggest teachers if we learn from them and use them as a catalyst for positive change.

This culture can only be achieved where there is trust. Great leaders support their teams and encourage them to become leaders themselves, rather than followers. They are not afraid to appoint people who are more skilled in other areas and they understand the value of humility.

The ‘disease of me’*

Business, like sport, is an industry populated by egos. Strong characters are powerful agents of change and can be incredibly influential. They must, however, be tempered with awareness otherwise egos can dominate and disempower other team members, which creates toxic politics that can really detract from the team’s vision and destabilise the whole organisation.

Creating lines of success

Leadership can either make or break a team or organisation in a high pressure environment as it’s like walking a tightrope, which requires incredible dexterity, awareness and insight.

A strong leadership culture creates continuous lines of success and sustained high performance. This can be achieved by:

  • encouraging people at all levels within an organisation to bring fresh ideas
  • ensuring people take responsibility
  • removing fear of failure and blame when things don’t go well
  • creating a learning environment that embraces new ways of working
  • making sure egos are kept in check and complacency is not accepted
  • knowing that the team is a unified entity - it celebrates the wins and shoulders the losses as one.

*Source - Pat Riley, The Winner Within