top of page

5 Key Questions – For Leading Team Culture!

Team and Culture: these concepts in business and sport are interchangeable. They both involve how your people feel about your organization, function in your organization, find energy from your team, and consequently, how well your people produce results. Leadership is Influence… leaders influence team culture and team culture brings in results.

I am about to turn 61 this month. Fifty-four years ago, I began a lifetime of participating on teams. Like you, I have played on amazing teams, difficult teams, teams I couldn’t wait to be around, and teams I couldn’t wait to leave.

Most of us can feel when our team energy is going wrong, but not as many invest the time required to understand how to adjust or fix our cultures. This reminds me of an NHL coach who reads the team’s statistics, complains to his centremen that their face-off percentages are down, but has no idea how to work with the centres to improve their face-off skill. Deep down, most people don’t want to blame and complain, but still find themselves reacting within their culture’s flow instead of proactively taking responsibility to change cultural direction.

A friend and client of ours by the name of Frank Tomaselli (President of Denora) distilled the following 4 ideas out of Dr. Gustavo’s work & book called Culture Trumps Everything:

1. "Policies tell people what not to do; culture tells people what to do. Policies limit behavior. Culture drives behavior.”

2. “People work harder for cause than for cash. Purpose supersedes pay.”

3. “The Profit Paradox: in business, long-term profits are best achieved by not making profit the primary goal of your business.”

4. “We get the culture we deserve…”

How do we adjust culture? We start by recognizing what needs to be fixed. Here are a few of my indicators to help you discover where to focus your team development resources.

Five Key Questions to Focus your Thinking:

1. Do your people talk to Logos or Numbers?

Talking to “logos” or to “numbers” is a learned team skill. When our culture is operating at an optimum level, our people consistently reduce their talk to “numbers” (behind our backs). They reduce the blame and gossip, and they talk more to “logos” (face to face) throughout the organization. This team concept sounds so simple, and becomes so impactful. Talking to “numbers” is highly destructive. Talking to “logos”, when fully embraced by the team, accelerates clarity and increases energy. Speaking to the person you were going to complain about takes courage, but in the end, allows both people to create solutions. (For a further discussion on how to implement this process send me a quick note at )

Opening up communication in this way does not begin or end with a one-time leadership speech. In order to be fully implemented, the concept of Logos, not Numbers has to be intentionally focused on, added to your Business Process, and become a cultural practice.

Question: What happens to our top performers if our culture consistently complains and blames behind leadership's back?

2. Is your cultural brand INTENTIONALLY connected to your company brand?

Some leaders I meet laugh off soft-skill development, believing that soft skills are for soft people! Whoops! These are the same leaders who wake up one day and ask, “Why isn’t our culture bringing in the results that I promised my board?” Remember, Leadership is Influence, leaders influence culture, and over the long term, culture delivers results!

When the desired results are not being consistently produced, either the way the leader is influencing the culture must change, or the culture has stopped listening to the leader’s voice. The mindset of the people influences the mindset of the culture and, in turn, impacts what clients think of the company. Do you have a plan in place to positively and progressively influence your people’s thinking? We have been working with leaders to answer the following question, “How do we as leaders ethically influence the mindset of our people?"

We find ourselves primarily impacting our clients of late by increasing awareness and intentionality around the 5 mindsets that your team drifts into or shifts into. As the visual demonstrates below, in order to improve results (happy clients), we must start by positively influencing the mindset & belief system of culture.

Key Question: Do We Positively Influence the Mindset of Our People? Does that Process Overflow and Have a Positive Impact on Our Client Relationships?

3. Is Developing the Leadership Capacity of your people focused on, honoured, planned, and multiplied?

Most often, the essential missing ingredient for winning the Stanley Cup is not more talent, but rather, more leadership. This is why some teams trade for that veteran player who has played on successful teams in the past. He brings the right experience, wrapped in the right attitude, to help generate a long run, deep into the playoffs.

Trading for leaders is an option, but it isn’t foolproof. Leaders from other cultures have undiscovered personalities and can bring their own baggage. Long-term success in the NHL, and in business, comes from growing the leadership capacity of the rookies in our culture who are showing promise in this area. During his term as GM with the Montreal Canadiens, Bob Gainey hired me to train the rookies and prospects with our leadership development processes first, before I implemented this training with the “big team,” the veteran players.

By keeping our eyes open to who has influence in our culture, we gain a sense of who our next leaders might be. John Maxwell suggests that leaders are learners. You multiply your success by implementing a process that helps develop the people who are showing leadership promise in your culture. Finally, Maxwell warns that if your people grow to be a 6 out of 10 as a leader, their team has a chance to become a 5. If leaders stretch to be an 8 out of 10 as a leader, their people have a chance to attain a level of 7. Your culture will never grow past its leadership capacity!

Key Question: Have We Formalized a Plan to Grow the Multiplier of our Future Success - Our Leadership Capacity?

4. Is your energy focus as much of a priority as your time focus?

It takes consistent energy, not just putting in the time, to bring results. Hard work is critical to maximizing performance, but hard work should not be disguised as more hours, but rather, more results. If you are leading a team, most of your people will feel obligated to stay at the office as long as you do. But are they productive, energized, and creating results, or are they reading the paper on their computer? I have been the resident of a professional hockey team as well as an assistant coach in the NHL. I have done this; I have seen this.

Leaders focus on results, which is great, but sometimes forget that the energy of their people and team is the important long-term generator of optimal results - that means physical energy, emotional energy, cultural energy, mental energy and yes, spiritual energy. All of our energy is interconnected. Do our people come with low energy (they come to work) or high energy (they come to win)? We believe the difference between WORKING and WINNING is a leadership responsibility!

Key Question: What Focus Can We Adjust to Enhance Our Personal and Cultural Energy?

5. What we believe…expands. How is your personal belief system impacting your team?

Some leaders believe that their people should fear them; these are primarily insecure leaders. Other leaders believe that culture is not important. Still others command obedience. Many more believe in collaboration. Whatever it is that we believe as leaders in turn influences our people. As my NHL agent, Herb Pinder, often reminded me, “After 3 or 4 months, every NHL team takes on the personality of its new coach.”

I have often heard coaches and leaders talk down the character and qualities of their people. This is always misguided because we often receive what we believe about our people. I once had a coach who believed more in me than I believed in myself, and I developed towards his expectations of me, over-producing with amazing seasons.

We recommend that you do a refresher in this area. Talk with somebody (and I would love to coach you here) about how you want to develop your Inner Game as a leader. Our belief system impacts our attitudes toward growth, culture, players’ energy, and team processes, and those obviously determine our long-term results!

Key Question: How Can We Positively Impact Our Personal and Cultural Belief System?

Why pay attention to these 5 questions?

Studies have shown that the personal awareness of the CEO is the number one indicator of the future success of his or her company. Wherever you are in the company or on the team, you are the CEO of you and your specific responsibility!

I have asked many of the more than 2000-plus CEOs that I have worked with over the past 25 years, “What are the big issues that you think on and worry about?” 2 key concerns always come up:

A) Hiring the best people.

B) Retaining the best, most productive, high-performing employees.

In today’s marketplace, high performers have options. Why should we spend energy training our people, and continuously increasing positivity throughout our culture? Because people don’t leave companies; people leave people! If negative people are setting the standard and negativity is dominating the cultural conversations, long-term, high-performers will find a new team.

Send me a note -

Come spend 3 Performance Enhancing Days training with Ryan & Jenn -

300 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page