The Secret Sauce of a High-Performance Culture

A project I really enjoy working on recently is the CultureLab podcast, where I get to talk to the world’s most influential leadership thinkers, culture (r)evolutionists, entrepreneurs, and all sorts of movers and shakers who change the way we think of and engage with and shape cultures in our business and in our lives.

When we started recording the first episodes of CultureLab, I had no idea what to expect.

My guests were from different backgrounds, with different views on culture and different experiences. But soon enough, I started noticing common themes emerging in these conversations.

Some of them came as no suprise. For example, most of my guests believe that senior leaders are the ones who have the biggest power – and responsibility – to shape culture.

But some were quite unexpected. One in particular almost made me gasp in shock.

When I asked about one thing that people can do to shape the culture in their team David Taylor said: ”Give them unconditional love”. Love was mentioned by Emmanuel Gobillot, DJ Mitsch, Richard Barrett and many more.

That’s right:





It made my head spin.

But as soon as I got pass the first shock, I started connecting the dots.

True – we haven’t always talked about love in the workplace. But we’ve talked about the importance of trust, acceptance, unconditional regard, psychological safety, human connection and respect. There have even been some voices talking about compassion. And if we put all of them together, doesn’t it sound very much like…love? Not the passionate love in intimate relationships, but love, nevertheless.

There is another reason all these things seem so important – it’s because they reduce the most destructive emotion that we see in organisational cultures – fear.

When we are afraid, our reptilian brain kicks in and, well – we are not at our best.

But when we feel safe, accepted, respected, connected – we’re able to thrive and be our best, doing our best work.

As Steven Pressfield said:

The opposite of fear is love – love of the challenge, love of the work, the pure joyous passion to take a shot at our dream and see if we can pull it off.”

So, if there’s one ingredient you want to experiement with in 2018 to shape a strong, healthy culture in your team or your organisation, you might want to try sprinkling a bit of love around.

Do you feel like playing with this idea but don’t know how?

Join other CultureLab listeners in our Facebook Experimenters Club and see what others are playing with.

For more reading on the topic, check out:

Harvard Business Review, “Employees Who Feel Love Perform Better” 

Fortune, “Love in the Workplace”

Psychology Today, “Love in the Workplace? Yes!”

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