Author: Steff O’Brien


So, are you intentional about your culture? Or are you hoping a new hire brings something you’re lacking to the table?

Here’s the deal for you as a leader and owner. There is nowhere to look but in the mirror.

If you have employees you don’t like, it’s because of you and your culture.
If you have results you don’t like, it’s because of you and your culture.
If you have anything you aren’t happy with, it’s because of you and your culture.

One of the things that you can do with the energy you bring to your business is to catalyze other peoples’ greatness. You can use your energy to help them be great at their jobs. You can create a situation where you think to yourself how lucky you are to have great people on your team.

Of course, you can also do the opposite .. nurture and fertilize an environment that encourages poor behaviour … set people up to be bad employees … and then lament that there are no good people to be found . While it might seem easier to blame those around you and avoid taking responsibility, you are in fact creating a culture out of these actions and showing your employees to act the same way.

Here’s how to ruin your culture:

  • Attempt to manage people instead of processes.
  • Never let them “win”.
  • Never compliment an employee without adding “but couldn’t you have done just a little more?”, Making sure you add your opinion to how they should do things.
  • Making them wrong, instead of dedicating time to educate them.
  • Explain the how and not the what.
  • Let them create whatever culture they want to have.



Now that you know what not to do, instead choose to catalyze and empower a winning team. There are six keys to a winning team:


Poor leadership will usually result in poor teams. A strong leader demonstrates integrity and competence and is someone that people trust with the communication skills to get other people to buy into his or her vision. Strong leaders inspire ownership in the teams they build.

Work on developing trust with your employees and allowing them to be a part of the conversation, which starts by asking for input and listening to them objectively. Show them how your decisions are based on what you believe is best for the team, and that those decisions include input from all of those affected by that decision.


Winning teams work together towards a shared goal. You need to first answer the question, “Where are we going?” for your team, and then communicate and drive this home to your team. A winning team will have a clear goal and plan of action to achieve it.

Great goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-orientated, and with a Time-frame. SMART goals are however not enough to get teams focused unless they’re common to the team. The necessary buy-in ensures improvements in performance and team spirit.


Imagine trying to win a game of chess if you don’t understand the rules. It seems simple that you need to understand the role of each piece and how they work together to build a good chess strategy, yet so often business owners don’t explain the rules to their teams. This leaves employees frustrated, confused or apathetic because the expectations are unclear.

Do your employees know your company’s core values? Have you invested time in defining core values and communicating the company culture to every team member?

You can’t shoot for a common goal if you haven’t defined the playing field. Of course, nobody likes rules, but if you make them clear and put them in context, they should motivate your team – people are more self-motivated when there is a clearly defined goal that is well understood and well supported . You need to explain the function of the rules. They are not there to control and smother, but to clearly define the structure and means to winning.

Mission. Vision. Culture. Three words that seem to strike fear into the hearts of average business owners. Three words that big business does so poorly, they almost ruined it for everyone. Three simple words that make all the difference in a business for hiring, retention, finding clients, solving problems, and generally owning something that is amazing for employees and customers alike.

What do we do? How do we do it? What behaviours do we value?

Answer those three questions and the framework of your business becomes simple, clear, easy to understand, and provides context for your team to make decisions in alignment with those three questions. And that is what our prospective customers want from us.


Great ideas, an inspiring vision, and even happy employees don’t automatically produce results. Results come from taking action. Your action plan has three simple components – WHO does WHAT by WHEN. Organize your plan into logical steps, and delegate each step to the right team member. Assign accountability and deadlines, and you are ready to go. End every meeting with an action plan – talk without action is non-productive. Make sure to follow-up to promote accountability, and lend support if needed.


As long as you have defined the rules of the game, the team should be encouraged to innovate within those defined boundaries. Progress is achieved by trying new things, even if it means failing along the way. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.” If Edison hadn’t kept trying, despite his failures, we might still be in the dark. For people to maximize their potential, they need to be allowed to try new things and make mistakes. Winning teams are willing to stretch their limits. Fear of mistakes and failure must go. You need to learn to welcome multiple solutions to challenges and encourage lateral thinking. When you and your team start to embrace risk, you’ll be rewarded with synergy in your team and your business. Of course, risk-taking only works once you’ve got strong leadership, shared goals, and rules in place.


Winning teams are created when each person knows they are accepted by the team, and each member chooses to participate 100%. You need to take the lead here, and require complete commitment from your team members. Some may need to change radically or leave. While that may sound tough, it’s in the best interests of the team and your business, and probably (if a team member can’t commit 100%) for the person leaving too.

If you’re not getting the results you want, it’s not because your employees or family or friends are idiots, it’s because life is a mirror and you are getting a reflection of something you are, or are not, doing. If you keep coming up against the same annoying problem or situation again and again, the common denominator is you. The only change you can make to affect the world is to change yourself. Want a different reflection, offer something different to the mirror.

Leaders who provide these 6 steps will build teams that win consistently because everyone connected with them concentrates on specific objectives. They go about their business with blinders on; nothing will distract them from achieving their aims.” Winning teams are goal-oriented.

Two helpful steps you can take to encourage, motivate and support your team:

I/ Create an organizational chart

  • By having an organizational chart projecting business by 10 or 20 years, employees have a visual aid to see where the opportunities lie and where they fit into the future
  • a development scale can support this by showing people that once they know how to master the following skills, behaviours, and actions, they can move to a new hierarchy on the organization chart.

II/ Schedule regular, default meetings

  • Hold the meeting at the same time and day of the week to create a routine
  • Make an agenda and send it out in advance so your employees have time to reflect and come up with ideas, questions and/or suggestions beforehand;
  • Be inclusive and make sure to lead the discussions, but not capitalize on it – give your staff space, freedom and encouragement to speak up.


Whether it’s a family, a circle of friends or work colleagues, we’re all members of different groups. And big or small, every group has its own distinctive culture.
So what is a group culture? In essence, it’s the relationships between people working together to achieve a common aim. People innately crave community, guidance, support, and motivation. Your powerful leadership using these 6 steps will not only inspire your employees to work harder towards a common goal (your business), but will also foster open communication – which means you have the greatest opportunity for new innovative ideas and have happier, harder-working employees.