Culture, Culture, Culture… What’s the Big Deal?

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Culture, Culture, Culture… What’s the Big Deal?

It started out fast, with 3 TD’s scored in the first 10 minutes. By the middle of the second quarter Alabama was up 16-14. Alabama seemed to be gradually imposing its will on Clemson. Surprise of surprises, Clemson rattled off 30 unanswered points and beat Alabama soundly 44-16.

Alabama had won 2 of the 3 meetings. Both teams featured young elite QB’s.

Even if you’re not a football fan, you’d have to admit the 2019 BCS Championship game was entertaining. Featuring two 14-0 powerhouses #1 Alabama vs #2 Clemson, lived up to its hype. Alabama was favored by 5 ½ points as these two teams met for the 3rdtime in 4 years to decide a National Champion.

You can learn a lot when watching elite teams compete. At Intentional-influence, we teach leadership development. An aspect that we delve into is culture and the role it plays in leadership. Peter Drucker is famous for coining the phrase:

“Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.”

You may have heard that phrase, but did you ever wonder what Drucker meant? It’s taken us several years to figure that one out. Let me ask you this. If you have an A+ strategy and a C- culture, what kind of result will you get?

Most likely a C- result. A bad or weak culture will trump any strategy you can envision. Let me explain what we mean by culture. Simply put, culture is the way we roll, the way we do things around here. It’s what your people do when you’re not watching. The best strategy in the world can’t overcome the behavior of your people.

We’ve always found a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s why we gravitate towards sports championships at the highest level. That’s where you see culture in action and that makes for memorable moments.

In the case of Monday night’s game, you saw 2 championship cultures battling it out on a playing field. That doesn’t mean that Clemson’s culture is superior to Alabama’s. That’s because there are still variables at play. It does mean that Alabama’s and Clemson’s culture gets them to the championship every year.

Did you know that Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban are good friends and fish down here in South Florida in the winter? These are 2 fierce competitors that realize the importance of culture in their respective organizations. They each have worked hard to define the culture and values they want to see in their players and work hard to protect and promote that culture.

Each team culture is a reflection of the values of their coaches. For Nick Saban, you can summarize his values in one sentence:

“TRUST THE PROCESS.” For Dabo: “BELIEVE!”. It’s the leader’s responsibility to envision what they want their team to stand for. In other words, their core values. Those foundational principles that represent who they are and more importantly predict the behavior of their people.

It takes time to develop a culture. It’s not a microwave, it’s a crock-pot marination process. Just as a crock pot produces some wonderful meals, so does a culture. What you see with these two teams is years of crock potting and marinating of the values of each team.

When you think of a Nick Saban or a Dabo Swinney team you know what to expect. They aren’t going anywhere soon, because each program attracts young men of similar values. These cultures act as magnets for talent and people of like mind. That’s how you build a dynasty.

Look, whenever people gather to accomplish something culture will appear. You can end up with a culture by default or a culture by design. Which would you prefer? Ignore culture at your own risk. Think your business or organization could learn a thing or two from sports legacies?

How’s your culture doing? Visit our website at We can help.

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