Over the course of my two decades in journalism, I have met and interviewed everyone from the worker-owner of a corner deli to magnates of industry, and what separates the winners and loser is something very simple — working in a successful culture.

It doesn’t matter what size organization you are working or running — culture is key to achieving success. One of the easiest examples of how a weak corporate culture can topple a company was AOL/Time Warner. There was the buttoned-down corporate culture of Time Warner on the one hand, and the entrepreneurial spirit of AOL on the other. It was one of the key factors that led to the demise of the largest merger in the history of U.S. business.

So how does one create a healthy culture? There are four basic ingredients:

  • Knowing your strengths and weaknesses
  • Having a mantra
  • Staying the course
  • Valuing “human capital”

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses

To create an environment of growth and inclusion, you need to know the basics of who you are, what you want your business to be, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your company as well as the strengths and weaknesses of your competition.Why? (read more…)

R+ Book 5th edition print cover v4The following is an excerpt from “Performance Management: Changing Behavior That Drives Organizational Effectiveness,” Fifth Edition, revised, by Aubrey C. Daniels, PhD., and Jon S. Bailey, Ph.D., for Performance Management Publications, a division of Aubrey Daniels International Inc.

Success in business is defined by an organization’s ability to produce results. If you don’t make a profit, you will go out of business. The same is true for each managerial position within your organization. If a manager does not produce results, he/she will not be judged as successful.

All organizational results are the products of human behavior. Every result is produced by someone doing something. If you want to improve results, you must first get employees to change what they are doing. You want people to do some things either more or less often, or in some cases, to do something entirely different.

To change results, you must change behavior. (read more…)

Of course you’re already a good boss, or you wouldn’t be reading this article. You may even be a great boss. But how do you stay at the top of your game? You do it by modeling great boss behavior on a daily basis.

Of course, you don’t get up every morning, look at that face in the mirror, and proclaim, “I’m going to be a great boss today.” Instead, you spend a little time on introspection and make some key personal decisions. Once you have created the internal foundation, you will more naturally do what a great boss does and you’ll be able to grow your people by showing them the way. Begin by asking yourself these three questions:

  • Where are you going?
  • Who’s going with you?
  • How are you going to get there?

But wait — how will you find time for this? It’s so easy to get stuck in the day-to-day rut. (read more…)

From the time of Alexander the Great to the invention of the steam engine in the 18th century, there was almost no increase in people’s productivity.

The speed a soldier in Alexander the Great’s army could travel was limited by the speed of the horse he rode or the beasts pulling his wagon; and weapons they used were all hand forged. The same was true for Napoleon’s troops 2,000 years later. But with the invention of the steam engine, things began to change. Since that time, the nominal annual rate of productivity improvement in developed economies has been between 0.5% and 2%. This is approximately the same natural improvement rate that is found in most traditionally run organizations.

But what if you could improve faster, at a rate that outpaced your competitors? And what if you could maintain this rate year-after-year? The result would be a considerable competitive advantage.

We have studied a number of companies that have been able to increase their productivity by as much as 13% to 15% annually. (read more…)

It’s mythical and alluring, that thing that you may secretly desire. It surfaces slowly and silently unseen, unheard and often unrecognized. It hides within the facade of your ego, growing larger with time while blinding you to its presence.

Make no mistake. It will destroy you and your organization even while it parasitizes your values and harms the spirits of those who once willingly followed you, but who now trudge along like sheep going to slaughter.

“Why aren’t our employees more innovative?” you exclaim, and the question “Why must I carry the burden of being all things to all people?” is keeping you up at night.

You’re blind to it when it surfaces, this thing named control. Yet it makes you feel powerful. The desire to control will surface throughout your leadership career. The trick to keeping control at bay is be aware when it surfaces and to let go of it (this is the hard part) when it’s appropriate. (read more…)