How can we help leaders become more effective? To answer this question, FirstPerson made the following hypothesis: C-level executives will effectively learn, grow, and become more effective by interacting with each other and by witnessing high performance culture in action.
To test this hypothesis, seven executives were brought together for a pilot training facilitated by Performance pH. The Performance Series was composed of three sessions for learning and discussion, and one capstone session for bringing everything together during a visit to a high performing company, Lincoln Industries. The series employed an assessment tool called the Performance Climate Survey, which was administered to employees at each executive’s company in order to provide insights and stimulate group interaction.
The result? From the perspectives of FirstPerson, Performance pH, and the participating executives, the hypothesis was supported. This is a valuable finding, because it suggests how C-level executives can up their games, especially when it comes to creating high performance cultures. Below you’ll see some of the actual insights garnered from the participants.
Setting the foundation for optimal performance
A key learning from the Lincoln Industries visit was the importance of establishing and living values, beliefs, and drivers, and having them fully integrated into the company culture.
“The value of identifying key beliefs and drivers that make organizations high performing was eye-opening for me,” said one of the participants, “especially when behaviors that are consistent with values, beliefs, and drivers are recognized and celebrated.” And, “Culture starts at the top and must be consistently ‘lived’ by leadership in order for it to be embraced at all levels of an organization. People want to be part of something they believe in.”
Another executive admitted underestimating the value of clarity of mission and culture. “The power of alignment between our people and company values, direction, and culture is much more significant than I previously gave it credit.”
Many of the executives were impressed with how a focus on mission and culture translate to operating excellence.
“I have been on many site visits, which typically include facility tours and brief introductions,” said one. “The site visit to Lincoln Industries was intended to show the culture in action. We clearly saw the behaviors that are consistent with the beliefs and drivers that drive high performance for them.”
Another executive added, “Learning how Lincoln Industries manages for daily improvement was the best part for me. We are in the early stages of implementation of this exact process at my company, so it was helpful to see it mature and working at Lincoln Industries.”
Attention to the basics
Several executives noted how The Performance Series confirmed the importance of basic actions that are often underestimated. Lincoln Industries has developed strong communications and wellness programs, an obviously important foundation for optimized business performance.
One executive commented, “Although I have a long way to go to get my company to the highest level of performance, I learned there are many things we can do right now that make a difference.”
Another noted that he learned the importance of “starting small by identifying the next one or two action steps toward high performance, and getting all of leadership behind it.”
A new CEO summed up the value of learning from high performing companies, performance experts, and her fellow executives. “This was a life-changing experience. I look forward to putting what I learned into action.”
John Harris is a Partner at Performance pH. This blog post is the third in a four-part series discussing empowered and high-performing companies. Check out the other blogs in this series: