There are few things more amazing than watching a well-orchestrated team working together – no matter the sport, business, or organization.
For several years, I coached high school soccer and worked alongside some excellent coaches. While we taught skills, fitness, tactics, and strategy, one of these coaches pointed out the enduring factor in winning soccer programs – culture. This proved true when two years later the best team that came through the program was not the most technically skilled team, but instead the most cohesive team on the field. The players worked as one unit. While several players were highly talented, they were unselfish and humble on the field. When anyone made a mistake, they would pick their teammate up and carry on. They held each other accountable, which created an implicit trust between them. At the end of their first season playing together, they had gone further than any team in recent school history.
Were they victorious because of their raw talent alone? Certainly not. Instead, they succeeded because there was a team culture consisting of: expecting excellence, working hard, respecting others, and humility. These elements became their values and drove their behavior. It led them to accomplish more together than any one of them could have achieved individually.
The importance of culture is equally significant in our businesses and organizations. When we think of competitive advantages, our minds can quickly move to proprietary products, services, or processes that individual businesses possess. While this may be the case, these factors alone will not guarantee success in the long run. Instead, it is our culture that becomes our differentiator, even our competitive advantage. We can attract greater talent, gain more consistent results, and increase both our employee and customer satisfaction.
As we enter 2019, may we take a lesson from a group of high school soccer players who recognized the importance of building a positive culture and seeing the results it can achieve.