Building a Winning Culture

In this latest article we are going to focus on the 4th skill from my ‘Think See Do’ Leadership model.

Specifically, how you ‘Think’ about your ‘People’.

In this article, I want to cover 3 important areas for you to consider as you look to improve the culture of your team or organisation.

This is also covered in more depth in my latest ‘Leadership Mindset – Think, See, Do’ podcast episode.

You can access the podcast:
  • on my website here
  • on iTunes here
  • on Stitcher here
  • You can also search for Leadership Mindset by Tony Brooks on podcast Apps which you can find on iTunes, Stitcher, podcast Apps
Building a winning culture


Before we get into the 3 key areas, you may be asking the question Why do I need to bother working on the culture within my team, business or organisation?

A leadership guru, Peter Drucker, once said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. I think both are critical but it is true that you can’t deliver your strategy with a toxic negative culture!

Results are delivered with and through your people. Therefore the importance of engaging your people and putting some serious work into developing your culture will bring better results.

Remember also that your people are typically the ones interacting and serving your customers and clients. If the energy within is negative, this will manifest externally too.

A) Your identity

The key parts of your identity are:

  • Purpose – Why do you exist as a business or organisation? What is your contribution to your customer base or society?
  • Vision – Where are you looking to go as a business? What would success look like? Where do you want to be in 1, 2, 3 years and beyond?
  • Values – What are the core values that unite everyone? What would make you proud if your customers said this about you? How would you like to be known? You can also add to this a strap line or motto.
  • Behaviours and underlying principles – These may not be shared externally (your values almost certainly will be) but it is good to dig deeper with your values. If a value is ‘Professionalism’ what does this actually mean in your day to day behaviour? What underlying principles will be the foundation for everyone’s behaviour? As an example, Microsoft have had an underlying principle of ‘Adding value’. After meetings, projects and other activities this is common language. Did this add value?

You may have defined these aspects of your identity previously, but it is well worth revisiting them and working with your people to build something that has common agreement. Then you need to make sure it’s not just a paper exercise!

B) Living and breathing your culture

Defining your identity is only just the start. To really see the benefit, you need to make sure this turns into a living, breathing part of your organisation.

  • Individual’s objectives and goals need to tie to the grander vision
  • Behaviour in line with agreed purpose, values and behaviours must be recognised and appreciated
  • Team meetings need to continually refer to the identity and progress in these areas
  • Time needs to be made to have quality time with your people – training, company wide meetings, team meetings, performance development meetings, 121s, project reviews.
  • Your culture also needs to be at the heart of your recruitment process to ensure the people you recruit match the culture.

When all this works well, you can guarantee people will see it internally and externally.

I recently used Jet2 whose motto is “Friendly Low Fares”. The way I was handled as a customer throughout the whole experience was consistent and excellent. Big smiles, always eager to help. You can guarantee this is as a result of quality training and a focus on living and breathing the culture.

C) Fun, socialisation and flexibility

Finally, your people want to feel a sense of belonging and a sense of family. This is because they will spend as much time with you as they do their families!

This starts with the energy that we generate as leaders. I learnt the importance of this on my leadership journey and it is vitally important to realise that your people will pick up on your energy. They need you to bring a positive energy to the culture.

You can build on this by sourcing and agreeing some ideas to make things more fun. Twitter have collective Yoga classes, Shopify have a tool (Unicorn) to praise each other for positive actions. Clients of mine have ‘Treats Fridge’, table football, spin the wheel competitions, joint Friday cycle rides. Get creative with your people and make work fun. I passionately believe higher productivity comes from a fun environment. You can extend this to periodic away days for teams with team building or fun activities.

Finally, we need to recognise that our people and millennials are changing the work dynamics. People want more flexibility in the way they work – flexitime, working from home etc. If you don’t evolve, your competitors will and people will vote with their feet. This is not easy and needs trust. I’ve been working with a company in Europe in this very area. Like most companies, this can feel uncomfortable but they know they need to start making changes to build a flexible culture to attract and retain talent.

I hope this article has stimulated your thoughts in this area and do take the time to listen to the podcast to go into this in more depth. Please feel free to subscribe to the podcast series ‘Leadership Mindset – Think, See, Do’ and explore other episodes in the series.

If you would like to see how you are performing in the 9 key leadership skills, take our FREE Leadership Diagnostic tool at

If you feel you need support in your leadership role, please give me a call on 07912 143 040 or email me at and we can discuss how I can support your leadership development.