"If leaders fail to define the culture, it will be defined by the behaviors they tolerate."  - Susan R. Salgado

To create a high-performance culture, you need the right people on your team, effective systems and structure that allow the team to get their work done, and a work environment where they will thrive. Of the three, many people think hiring is most critical, but in fact, effective leadership and an uplifting work environment are the keys to getting the best out of your team.

Culture eats hiring for breakfast.

The behavior you ignore, you condone.

Turning a blind eye to poor performance or inappropriate employee behaviors sends a clear message to your team: It's ok. The behavior you tolerate becomes the new normal. How could your team know you expect anything different if you don't say anything? 

To be effective in their jobs, employees need 3 things: the right skills, the right attitude, and permission. Companies focus a lot on hiring for the right skills, and sometimes even focus on hiring for the right attitude. But many companies lose it on the third step – they fail to empower employees to do their jobs, and continually create rules and obstacles that get in the way instead of setting them free to be and do their best.

Attitude, Skills, Permission.

Managers manage. Leaders lead.

We need managers to effectively get the job done—to make sure all the trains run on time. But to get the best out of your team, you have to make them want to follow you. They need to be inspired. Inspired teams do their best work not because they have to – not because they are afraid of what would happen if they didn’t – but because they believe in what they are doing and they want to give of themselves.

Clients don’t like surprise charges. Employees don’t like surprise deadlines. No one likes getting knocked off their game because of poor communication. The only good surprises come in the form of thoughtful presents and meaningful recognition. Otherwise, no surprises.

No surprises.

People want to be heard more than they want to be agreed with.

I learned this from an old friend, and couldn’t agree more – even when you’re telling someone ‘no’, they will be more complicit if they feel they’ve been heard and that you tried to understand their point of view.

Some call it positive intent, others call it the charitable assumption. Whatever you name it, use it – believing the best in others is the only way we remember to truly empathize, and to be on the other person side.

Believe in the best in others.