Successful organizations like Apple, Coca-Cola, the Red Cross and Ritz-Carlton all have a distinct attitude. For example, Apple leads its competitors in designing innovative products. Winning attitudes do not emerge by chance. Leaders aligning their organization's strategy, posture and culture create them.
The components of an organization's attitude include strategy, posture and culture. As examples, look at Apple, Coca-Cola, the Red Cross and Ritz-Carlton:
Strategy: Best design with a premium on new-to-the-world thinking.
Posture: Proactive -- innovating ahead of the curve to meet unstated needs.
There is a culture of innovation marked by a willingness to take risks with a long-term view, designing products and services before consumers know they need them.
Strategy: Produce consistently superior beverages (and marketing).
Posture: Reactive-proactive -- fast follow, deploying overwhelming resources to coopt others' innovations.
There is a culture of discipline with strong central control so Coca-Cola beverages taste the same everywhere every time.
Strategy: Best delivery with an emphasis on tactical flexibility.
Posture: Proactive-reactive -- pre-positioning resources to respond quickly when needed.
There is a culture of perseverance marked by a deep commitment to purpose making people willing to hurry up and wait over and over again.
Strategy: Best support, empowering each employee to do what it takes to solve any guest problem.
Posture: Reactive -- responding to others' needs
Culture of flexibility in pursuit of extraordinary guest experience.
As a leader of an organization, if you have not articulated your strategy, posture and culture, get them down on paper now. Only then can you align the three in order to unite your followers around the combined attitude.
Misalignment creates problems. For example, too much discipline would impede Apple's innovation. Too much flexibility would pollute Coca-Cola's production and distribution machine. Too much innovation too fast would disrupt the Red Cross's ability to respond to the next disaster. Too strict policies would limit Ritz-Carlton employees' ability to respond.
The BRAVE acronym -- which stands for behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values, and environment -- started as a framework to help new leaders get a quick and dirty read on an organization's culture. Then we began to understand that culture is an organization's only truly sustainable competitive advantage. From there it was a short hop to realizing the importance of BRAVE leadership in establishing and evolving culture.
Leadership is about inspiring and enabling others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. BRAVE leaders leverage five questions to do this:
- Where play? -- Choosing the environment
- What matters? -- Values that define the win and core principles
- How win? -- Aligning strategy, posture and culture for a winning attitude
- How connect? -- Building and strengthening relationships
- What impact? -- Prompting and rewarding behaviors that drive results
Defining and driving a unified, distinct organizational attitude is the key to bridging the gaps between choosing which field to compete in, and which behaviors are going to have the greatest impact. This is why it's so important to get your strategy, posture and culture aligned as a first step on the way to changing the world.
This is a good example of step six of The New Leader's Playbook: Embed a Strong Burning Imperative
The burning imperative is a sharply defined, intensely shared, and purposefully urgent understanding from each of the team members of what they are "supposed to do, now." Get this created and bought into early on -- even if it's only 90 percent right. You, and the team, will adjust and improve along the way.
An absolutely essential part of this is alignment around mission, vision, and values: what you have to get done, what things will look like when you get that done, and the principles you will not give up on along the way -- no matter what it costs.
The New Leader's Playbook includes the 10 steps that executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis uses to help new leaders and their teams get done in 100-days what would normally take six to twelve months. George Bradt is PrimeGenesis' managing director, and co-author of The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan (Wiley, 3rd edition 2011) and the iPad app New Leader Smart Tools. Follow him at @georgebradt or on YouTube.