10 Ways to Foster a Culture of Winning at Your Startup

03/30/2017 10:35 am ET Updated Mar 30, 2017
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As founders, we already know the importance of culture in a startup workplace. Creating the right culture is crucial when it comes to inspiring your team members, encouraging innovation, and establishing an environment that's conducive to progress and success.

One way to ensure your startup's culture is on the right track, is to foster a culture of winning. But what does that mean, exactly? We asked 10 startup founders to share their advice on how they foster a culture of winning at their own companies. Keep reading below for their expert insights.

1. Visualize Success

As a startup, our team literally sets aside meeting time to visualize, feel, and describe to each other the successes we anticipate having in the future. This provides a mental roadmap of what success looks like and plants seeds of possibility.

2. Lift Up Your Team Members

Winning is about building up others, and helping them leverage their unique abilities for the good of others. It's an endless, virtuous loop. Winning is helping others win.

3. Celebrate Failure

The best way to ensure you have a culture of winning is to create space for your people to fail. Failure, in proper context, is a source of motivation, improvement, and team building. An environment where team members understand that when they fail, their teammates are willing to help them learn and move forward is a winning culture. Fear of failure is the kiss of death for innovation. Allow your employees room to try new things, grow, and think outside the box.

4. Be Passionate, Open-Minded, and Perseverant

Three behaviors are key to creating a culture of winning: passion, open-mindedness, and perseverance. You have to be passionate about what you do. Those vibes will inspire your team to believe in your mission and stay engaged. You must be open-minded and knowledgeable about your industry in order to stay ahead of the game or to pivot when necessary. You also have to persevere through short-term challenges in order to make your product the best it can be in the long run.

5. Practice Gratitude

Acknowledgment and gratitude are two words that immediately come to mind when thinking about creating a culture of winning. It's well known that most people seek more than financial reward in the workplace, and want to spend their time working on things that are meaningful and impactful. Acknowledging small wins and showing gratitude for the contributions of your employees can go a long way when it comes to energizing and motivating individuals and teams toward further success.

6. Trust That Everyone Is Passionate and Dedicated

Passion and dedication are exhibited on a spectrum. Some people exude startup culture and it radiates from the walls every time they're present. Other people quietly show it in their work ethic or quality of work. Exhibition is not necessarily a sign of proficiency or correctness. Being accepting of the way individuals contribute and being aware that in order to grow a culture of winning, everyone must trust that other team members care and are just as dedicated as they are. This trust is essential to growth.

7. Be Open to New Directions and Opportunities

Have an open mind and always be on the lookout for hidden opportunities, even if they're not exactly aligned with your original goals. At TWIP, we set out to help people connect with like-minded travelers and experiences that match their wants and needs, but in doing so, we realized we created a behavior assessment specifically for people's travel behaviors. We call this your Travanality. Have 100% unwavering belief in your success. If that's your mindset, setbacks are not failures, just detours on your road to achievement.

Creating a culture of winning is a marathon, not a sprint. By focusing on these insights to point your culture in the right direction, you'll slowly but surely lead your team toward success. Make fostering a culture of winning in your top priorities for 2017 and your work will surely pay off in the long run.

8. Hire Well

A culture of winning starts with hiring the right team. A team of people who care about their work, who work together instead of against each other, and who are committed to the same cause is where a healthy and productive culture comes from. With the right people on the team, a culture of winning is inevitable.

9. Define What "Winning" Looks Like

It's hard to win when there's no clear understanding on your team about what winning looks like. So it starts with writing out your goals clearly, and making sure everyone on the team understands them and revisits them regularly. This helps build alignment and accountability—key ingredients to building a culture of winning.

10. Just Say No To Complacency

Avoid complacency at all costs. Technology is rapidly advancing and although it is important to celebrate the small wins, continue to think ahead and develop your company or you're dead in the water.

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