Building a winning business culture is so easy it is amazing that so few do it.
History shows that the odds of success are heavily stacked against both businesses and individuals. The overwhelming majority of new businesses fail in the first few years, and only a thin minority of individuals achieves the level of success they imagined at the start of their careers.
Like Powerball winners, companies and individuals that overcome the odds and achieve remarkable levels of success earn widespread adoring publicity. But the winners are rare exceptions to the rule since most fail into obscurity. And like the Powerball winners, the adulation of success acts like bait to induce others to buy a lottery ticket, start a new business or launch a career.
While there is nothing that can (legally, anyway) be done to improve the odds of winning a lottery, there are key actions that can be taken to dramatically increase the chances of success for a business or an individual’s career. It starts by recognizing that success becomes so elusive because businesses and individuals often go about achieving it in the wrong way.
The problem is that most businesses and individuals – like gamblers in Vegas – behave in ways that essentially increase the odds of failure. That’s why it is crucial to tilt the odds of success in your behalf by identify and implementing activities that can create an environment in which success – while not guaranteed – is more likely to be achieved.
Let’s start at the very core of the concept of success.
The conventional business mindset defines success as the triumph of the business. Wrong. This way of thinking leads management to have a singular focus on what is best for the business, often at the expense of all else. The rationale that corporate mucky-mucks use to justify this approach is that if the corporation is not successful, then it can’t provide jobs and opportunity or meet the needs of the consumer. This is a common rationalization based on the myth that: What is good for the corporation is good for others, because the benefits will trickle down to them. The truth is just the opposite: What is good for those associated with the business – employees and customers – will be good for the business.
The same is true for individuals seeking to climb the ladder of success, either in the corporate world or as an entrepreneur. The generally accepted attitude is: What’s best for me? Many believe – often rightly so – that if they don’t lookout for themselves, no one else will. In the corporate world, however, this attitude condones the ass-kissing of those above and the stepping on those below; all in a misguided effort to be successful. In the entrepreneurial world this mentality manifests itself in the need for absolute control. The message is: It’s my idea, my company and my success. As they say, “My way or the highway.”
This type of “me-first” attitude – espoused by both corporations and individuals – is the reason why the odds favor failure over success. And yet there is a better, an easier way. The odds for success will be improved for any business, individual or entrepreneurial endeavor when the exact opposite attitude is adopted, not as a strategy but as a core philosophy of the culture.
Corporations don’t make people successful — People make corporations successful.
An individual can’t build a broad base of support within an organization unless they are willing to support others. A new business cannot survive and grow to success only on the ideas and effort of the entrepreneur. The most important concept to understand is that the best chance for the success of any organization is not when one leads all, but when the culture leads all to become one. The potential for success is enhanced when all those associated with the effort will see the success achieved as their success.
Getting it Right the First Time
What many don’t comprehend is the level of power, effort and commitment that can emerge when individuals bond together in a deep sense of connection with the effort to achieve success. It is this sense of being “connected” that will involve others in the search for success, because it gives them an awareness of power, purpose and value. This is not the rah-rah variety of enthusiasm that can be faked or easily dissipated. Rather, it is a deep-seated zeal to be part of something that is bigger and more rewarding than individual accomplishment. It is an understanding that the success of an organization or individual is not possible unless all are successful. Nothing motivates – indeed inspires – effort and commitment more than the belief that what you do for the organization or others benefits you as well; often to an even greater degree.
When this type of organizational culture is nurtured, the leader – whether executive, manager or entrepreneur – recognizes that success is not dependent on them. In fact, they come to understand there is little of any significance they can actually do to bring about success. The leader – especially an entrepreneur – may create the opportunity for success, but they are not responsible for achieving the success. It is the bringing together of all others – who view the success as their success – that creates the sustained group effort and commitment necessary to achieve success.
It’s Almost Easier Done Than Said
This may all seem esoteric and abstract, but it’s not. Building an organizational culture of this sort is both practical and pragmatic. It will not guarantee success, but it will begin to tilt the odds in favor of success. And the best part is that it’s actually easy to do. Certainly it is a lot easier than going at it alone.
There are a few simple principles that, if adhered to, will create the culture needed to bend the odds in favor of success. Everyone wants to be liked, respected and even loved, but when it comes asking others to help you achieve success, the most essential attribute must be trust. How many people really trust that the company they work for is concerned about their best interests? Do you? What motivation do people have to “lay it on the line” for a boss or company they don’t trust? Developing trust boils down to a simple formula: Say what you are going to do and do what you say. A bond of trust will begin to tip the odds of success.
Showing real respect for the talent, experience and value others bring to the table encourages them to offer that value to the effort. Encouraging the ideas of others and empowering them to fully participate in the process will demonstrate respect and motivate them to become fully engaged in the effort to achieve success. By demonstrating real respect for the talent and value of others and acknowledging that success cannot be achieved without their ideas and efforts will begin to tip the odds of success.
If success is good for one, it should be good for all. Those who have the ability to add value to an organization will be motivated to do so, so long as they have the opportunity to share in the value created. It is interesting how the promise of reward for success will motivate the corporate executive or entrepreneur to dedicate their efforts to the success of an organization. Yet these same individuals fail to recognize the value of that motivation when offered to those who will actually do the work that will create the success. When an organization is structured in a way that shares success with all those who contributed to the success, the odds of success will be increased.
And the Moral of the Story …
Success is tempting, transfixing, all-absorbing and elusive. But the odds against success are high; most will fail. Success can never be guaranteed, but there are specific, simple and effective actions that can be taken to tilt the odds of success. It starts with recognition that success is achieved by the efforts of all, not one. The objective should not be the success of an organization or individual, but an approach that motivates all to be connected to and dedicated to achieving the success of the organization, because that success is their success. When that happens, the odds of success increase for all.