Most coaches and organizational experts promote their years of classroom experience, credentials and affiliations to communicate their ability to advise, strategize and consult with their clients. I say, if it works, great. But that’s not me.
My ‘classroom experience’ was on the job at a rapidly-growing, high-performing e-commerce company. I volunteered to take on the role of VP of Mission & Culture, and thankfully I had a leader who was more interested in my talent and ability rather than my past experience and educational pedigree. I’ve always been a ‘doer’ and I put that talent to work even before day one of the new role.
I invested in weeks of research, study and learning about the benefits of a high performance culture. If my classroom was my office, my instructors were other amazing organization culture examples; the likes of Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Ritz Carlton, and Netflix. I immersed myself in white papers, e-books, audio books and regular old ‘book books.’ I began following the trending thought leaders on the subject of culture, culture transformation and values-based leadership. I visited other organizations that had strong cultures to first-hand see their concept of culture in action.
I learned one more valuable lesson on those field trips: If you’re serious about building a rock star culture, learn how to be a humble, generous corporate citizen, pay it forward, and build a network of peers that you can lean on for advice.
If you're serious about building a rock star culture, learn how to be a humble, generous corporate citizen, pay it forward, and build a network of peers that you can lean on for advice.
But one of the most valuable ‘classroom experiences’ I had was collaborating with a team of peers and colleagues whose ideas and suggestions came to life as I shared the vision for creating an amazing, thriving, sustainable culture. Real change happens when you get others involved and they take a vision from pretty good to kickass. And that element of team work — having the right people, doing the ‘right things right’, moving in the right direction toward a shared vision — is where the magic happens.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to building a kickass culture. We decided to select the best ideas from a variety of sources and create momentum through massive, focused action. The infusion of knowledge, experience and action taught me how to be a better leader and the importance of inspiring others to get on board the culture train.
Learning on the job has many benefits. Obviously, it was my job and I was being compensated for it. And, as a result, I was held accountable for the very high expectations around its success. You could say the stakes were high, but they only got higher the more we developed. That’s the thing. There’s no destination. Creating a high performance culture is a non-stop journey.
I made mistakes: people mistakes, leadership mistakes, strategic mistakes. And I learned valuable lessons from every single one of them. Passionate, driven, intelligent people push you to be your best. It was extremely challenging and incredibly rewarding. The 6 years I spent working there was like getting a decade of experience condensed into a few months.
Those experiences are exactly why I’m qualified to coach fast-growing organizations who are between 5 and 100 employees despite my lack of ‘credentials.’ There are numerous critical growth periods in that time where culture either creates a rock-solid foundation for the future, or where it smothers growth — or even kills an organization.
I’ve worked in situations where the culture was somewhere between toxic and not good. But I know what it takes to initiate a culture shift from ordinary, where employees go to a 8-5 job, to an award-winning environment where professionals act like owners before 8 and after 5. As a values-based leadership coach, I teach you how to make it scalable, sustainable and unique for your organization. You in?