How to Create a Culture of Winning


Driving a strategy that requires change in human behavior is the most difficult challenge a leader will ever face. Flawless execution of behavioral change strategies requires: 

  • Focus
  • Leverage
  • Employee Engagement 
  • Accountability

Most leaders understand these elements are necessary, yet 80 percent of all strategies that require change in human behavior fail - or at best, produce only mediocre results.

Employees are at their best and most engaged in their work when they believe they are playing a winnable game. A very simple premise, but yet so often overlooked by leaders. The highest standard a leader can aspire to is, "Am I creating a winnable game for those I lead?" Are your folks playing to win, or playing not to lose? This is not a subtle issue. Are employees coming to work every day trying to keep their heads above water or are they focused on what matters most? Do they know the rules to the game (how to win and what success looks like) or is it cloudy and vague?

Communication and clarity is just one of the key reasons execution of strategy often breaks down and why a winnable game is not created. Lack of clarity creates confusion, misunderstandings, anxiety, lack of alignment, inability to take accountability, frustration, stress, and much more. Data collected over the past 20 plus years reveals that 90 percent of employees are not crystal clear on what is expected of them or of the most important goals for their team or organization. That gives rise to an important question: How can anyone choose to take accountability to help your team or organization achieve a result they did not know existed?

If you were to ask a random group of 100 people in your organization to state the 'must‐achieve desired results' your team or organization must realize, what percentage would be able to recite them exactly? What percentage would know how you are measuring them? What percentage would know where you stand today in relation to the desired metric (end result)? How many would be able to make the link between what they 'do' and how it impacts the desired results? Experience points to fewer than 10 percent would be able to answer those questions with precision. Employees cannot take accountability to achieve what is not clear, unknown or vague

One of the primary obstacles that impedes achievement of desired results and flawless execution of vital and important strategies is the day job. That is, the tsunami of daily activity that must be addressed in order to keep the business operating. That tsunami is urgent and must be acted upon now. Most often, the new strategies and goals are important, but often get suffocated by the daily work. When urgency meets importance, urgency almost always wins. One simple way to help improve focus on the desired results and the new and important goals is to create a mindset that the achievement of the desired results is your job. Often employees limit what they do based upon their job description. Doing only what was written in their job description or orally explained by their manager. The reality is that we only hire employees to help the company achieve its desired results ‐ not just to focus on daily activity. So, their job is achieving the desired results. It creates a mindset that my job is broader than what is on my job description.

Grandiose ideas, intoxicating possibilities and big opportunities draw out passion, engagement, creativity and morale. Employees are most engaged in their work when they are involved in meaningful work and believe they are playing a winnable game. How effective is your leadership team at creating that winnable game? 

This is the final part of a six-part series. Read all six parts:

  1. How to Lead Change and Accelerate Achievement
  2. Leading and Managing Change
  3. How to Be a Change Leader
  4. How to Get Employees to Embrace Change
  5. The Power of Volunteerism
  6. How to Create a Culture of Winning

Mike Evans is a best-selling author/speaker and Managing Partner of QuestMark. Over the course of his career he has worked alongside a star studded list of world-renowned thought leaders such as Dr. Stephen Covey and Tom Peters.