Competitive Advantage through Culture – How to Create It

Getting a running start gives you a Competitive Advantage through Culture

The Competitive Advantage through Culture
Most business leaders talk a good game about wanting to create a high performance culture, but few fully understand how to create the environment to get the most out of their people in a way that accelerates their strategy.  They don’t know why or how they should create a competitive advantage through culture. The founder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, said it best: “Everything [in our strategy] our competitors could copy tomorrow. But they can’t copy the culture—and they know it.”  That’s what keeps Southwest as a leader of the pack.

All well and good.  But how do you go about creating a true competitive advantage through culture?

The Definition of Corporate Culture
Culture is how things truly get done in an organization.  A high performance culture occurs when the unique beliefs and ways things get done at your company are understood, consistent and leveraged to best achieve your unique strategy.  In the strongest company cultures, employees act in ways that help, not hinder, the overall strategic agenda, even when no one is watching.

No Two Organizational Cultures are Alike
While many companies are similar, each is distinctive enough so that what works in one organization will not necessarily succeed in another.  The key is to determine what culture will be most effective in achieving your specific strategic priorities in your unique industry.  Will your business thrive with tight structures or flexible guidelines, emphasis on low costs or high quality, predictable products or innovation?  That is for you to decide.

The What
Culture may seem difficult to measure or to change, but the effort is worth it.  Our organizational alignment research found that an effective culture accounts for 40% of the differential in business performance between companies in areas such as revenue growth, profitability, customer retention and employee engagement.  Here are some of the attributes of high performing culture:

  • Organizational Health – Think of organizational health as the combination of behaviors and corporate values that are consistently lived across an organization. In general, organizations strive to be healthy, and people want to work in a healthy environment.  An organization must be healthy enough to set the stage for high performance; but health alone will not set you apart from your peers in terms of business results or talent management.
  • Performance Management – The next ingredient in creating a high performance culture is your performance environment. We believe that people change when their environment changes.  We also believe it is a leader’s job to create the circumstances to consistently get the most out of their people in a way that fits with the organization’s core values, behaviors and strategies through clear direction, transparent performance status, and aligned motivation that is meaningful.
  • Strategically Aligned Culture – The third, and often the least effectively used, ingredient required for building a high performing culture is the alignment of your culture with your strategy. The goal is to design a purposeful culture that is 100% aligned with moving your business priorities forward in areas such as customer intimacy, market approach, decision making, focus, operational variation, risk and results.

The Bottom Line
There is no underestimating the powerful impact of committed leaders to building a high performance culture that is aligned with strategic priorities.  The degree to which senior leaders model, encourage, and promote the desired behaviors to move your strategy forward is the measure of the success of your culture transformation.  Is your culture creating a competitive advantage?

To learn more about creating a competitive advantage through culture, download The 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture

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LSA has become the gold standard in team building and management training at Genomic Health! I have a hard time finding facilitators that come close to their level of customization, expertise and experience.

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We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.

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LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

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Hyperion

I continue to be impressed by the level of leadership development and management expertise and quality of advice and facilitation that LSA has to offer. What a smart and client-centric group of great people who really know how to help leaders attract, engage, develop and retain top talent.

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Director, HR Business Partner

LSA has been a tremendous asset to my portfolio, both at my current company and my past company. As an HR leader, I am always looking for ways to find external resources that can provide a solution to our management training needs. LSA does that for me. Their solutions are presented in a much more leadership-oriented manner so as to be crisp, business relevant, and easy to apply right back on the job. I will continue to augment our programs using LSA solutions.

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VP of Human Resources

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Terry Wassman
VP of Human Resources

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