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Touching back on my last blog I mentioned that culture needs to become a strategic business priority (like sales, profit, etc.) and not just a HR priority.

boat with leader Source:

Leadership teams can start the creation of high performance cultures by implementing the following 6 steps:

1. Establish a sense of urgency

They need to make it clear that the current culture needs to change, articulate the vision and business case, and describe the opportunity (as John P. Kotter states in his book The 8-Step Process for Leading Change) in a way that appeals to the hearts and minds of people.

2. Develop a set of strategic beliefs

These are the beliefs senior executives have about their organisation’s environment that enables shaping business strategy e.g. Dell believed that customers would, if the price was right, buy computers from a catalogue rather than go to computer stores as the conventional wisdom dictated they would. They created a $7 billion business.

3. Develop a set of values

Values enable the organisation to act on its strategic beliefs and implement their strategy the right way. Values shape the culture of an organisation, define its character and serve as a foundation in how people act and make decisions. Dell’s values supporting its strategy and strategic beliefs include: Delivering results that make a positive difference; leading with openness and optimism and winning with integrity.

4. Capitalise on quick wins

Capitalize on and honour your cultural strengths and act quickly on any critical behaviour changes required.

5. Challenge those norms that get on the way of high performance

Norms are informal guidelines about what is considered normal (what is correct or incorrect) behaviour in a particular situation. Peer pressure to conform to team norms is a powerful influencer on people’s behaviour, and it is often a major barrier affecting change. It is always easier to go along with the norm than trying to change it…. Common samples of negative norms in some organisations: Perception that it is ok to yell at people, ignore people’s opinions, etc.

6. Role model and recognise the desired behaviours

As Gandhi wonderfully put it “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This empowers action and helps embed the desired culture you are trying to create. Behaviour is a function of its consequences. Behaviour that results in pleasant consequences is more likely to be repeated, and behaviour that results in unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated. According to B. F. Skinner and reinforcement theory “future behavioural choices are affected by the consequences of earlier behaviours”. The argument is clear; if you want people to be brave and challenge the status quo, you shouldn’t make them feel awkward or like difficult employees when they do. Furthermore, if want people to contribute at meetings make sure you actively listen to them and act on their suggestions and ideas.


On his famous article “On the folly of rewarding A while hoping for B” Steven Kerr argues that the way in which we reward and recognise people doesn’t always deliver the desired results. We all have being in situations where we are told to plan for long-term growth yet we are rewarded purely on quarterly earnings; we are asked to be a team player and are rewarded solely on our individual efforts; we are told that the way in which results are achieved is important and yet we promote people who achieve results the wrong / in a Machiavellian way. A friend of mine was recently at a hospital and he complained to the ward manager about the doctor’s bad manners and rudeness. The answer he got was “do you want to be treated by the best heart doctor in the country or a not so good doctor but with a really nice bed manner?”.

My argument is why can’t we have both?

Pedro Angulo is the Programme Director of the IMI Diploma in Strategic HR Management starting on 16th November 2016. Pedro is an Organisational Effectiveness Business Partner in AIB and Chairperson of the Irish EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council). He is a motivational speaker and regular presenter at HR, coaching, change and business conferences / events. _____________________________________ [post_title] => 6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 6-strategies-start-creation-high-performance-cultures [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21753 [post_author] => 94 [post_date] => 2019-09-17 07:48:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-09-17 07:48:11 [post_content] => [post_title] => Connecting Technology Leadership with a Growth Mindset [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => connecting-technology-leadership-growth-mindset%e2%80%a8 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-04-30 14:19:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-04-30 14:19:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26578 [post_author] => 146 [post_date] => 2019-04-14 12:44:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-14 12:44:01 [post_content] => As the business environment becomes ever more competitive, disruptive and complex, future-fit leaders are required to be agile in how they think about problems, and how they deliver solutions. This week we talk to Danica Murphy about the performance mindset; what it is, how leaders today can benefit from the thinking and development behind it, and why it’s necessary in the modern business environment. In the conversation we cover topics such as the importance of Focus, Resilience and Wellness for senior leaders.
Subscribe: iTunesTuneInSoundcloudAcastStitcher – or search ‘IMI Talking Leadership’ in your podcast provider of choice.
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Maura Dolan

Maura Dolan

9th Jul 2018

Maura Dolan is an IMI Associate Faculty member.

Related Articles

A Fixed or Growth Mindset? What it Means for Your Organisation
6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures
Connecting Technology Leadership with a Growth Mindset
Episode 9: Danica Murphy – Mastering the Performance Mindset

Growth Mindset: What has attitude got to do with IQ?

It is almost seven years since Rory McIroy carded 80 in the final round of Augusta to derail his chances of winning the Green Jacket. I remember watching Rory striding down the fairways of Augusta, a bounce in his stride on his way to don the Green Jacket and win a Grand Slam.

Then over the space of four holes his potential victory evaporated.

The world saw the 21-year-old bury his face in the crook of his elbow, as victory slipped away. I also remember clearly his subsequent interview, his attitude and maturity in reflecting that if that was the worst thing that happened to him life would be good, that he had learned many valuable lessons from his “meltdown”. Rory picked himself up, dusted himself down and two months later won the US Open.

So, what has Rory’s experience got to do with intelligence?

Old dogs can learn new tricks with the right attitude (Photo source)


Intelligence isn’t just brain cells

The traditional view of intelligence suggested that individuals had no control over their intellectual potential. IQ and other intelligence tests sent out the message to every individual including those who scored well was that your intelligence was something you were given and not something you earned.

Furthermore, this view limited intelligence to abilities such as logic, problem solving skills, verbal reasoning and spatial awareness. Over time this definition of intelligence was challenged, and it was suggested that intelligence is more multidimensional than originally proposed. Gardner’s (Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner) theory of multiple intelligences originally suggested seven intelligences; he then added a further two.

He suggests that intelligence includes the traditional abilities such as linguistic, logical/mathematical, spatial and also intelligences such as bodily (athletic), musical, interpersonal and intrapersonal and subsequently he added spiritual, existential, moral intelligence is also being considered.

Fixed and growth mindset

Whilst all these factors are important, Carol Dweck’s work on fixed mindset and growth mindset opens up a different perspective on intelligence.

Over the last 20 years Carol Dweck and her colleague studied attitudes in young children in relation to learning and problem solving. They questioned what was the reason that some children embraced challenges around learning whilst others strove to demonstrate their ability through performance and getting the right answer rather than appearing to ‘fail’ and then try and try again.

With the use of fMRIs and PETscans and progress in medicine we now understand much more about how the brain works and that it has plasticity that can grow, develop and change. This plasticity is present from a very early age and, although it diminishes with age, we now understand that it is possible to train our brain to serve us better.

The knowledge that our brain is plastic and that a growth mindset means that our attitude to learning can change – we can see things differently.

Indeed, old dogs can learn new tricks with the right attitude.

Maura Dolan is an IMI Associate Faculty member, an accredited fellow of coaching (AFC) facilitator and trainer with over 14 years’ experience coaching senior executives, designing and delivering coach training courses. Prior to establishing Life & Executive Coaching Institute, Maura spent over 20 years working in the corporate world and has extensive business acumen.