Becoming a High-Performing Team: First - Build Culture, Intentionally

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Becoming a High-Performing Team: First - Build Culture, Intentionally
How do you go about building a culture that supports excellent performance? Unfortunately, it is often assumed that culture—a group’s set of values, norms, and behaviors—will be a natural by-product of the process of setting a vision, goals, and structures. In fact, culture should be built intentionally, from the ground up. And true culture is what happens when no one is watching, said presenter Diana Peacock of Community Wealth Partners. 
Gena O’Keefe shared lessons learned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Baltimore collaborative with the goal of improving the infant mortality rate and reading ability in elementary school children. She stressed the importance of collaborative efforts with partners and employing good data to inform decision-making.
David Smith of the Presido Institute shared his experience with a start-up nonprofit entity. The Presido Trust’s focus is on building cross-sector leaders and working with a start-up mentality embedded within an older, more bureaucratic entity. The big question for Smith is: How do you maintain your innovation and spread your culture?
“The tone has to be set by the top, but it has to be embraced by the team,” said Peacock. “And everyone must conform to the rules set by the team…and create mechanisms to surface diverse perspectives.” Peacock and other panelists emphasized the importance of working through people and culture, rather than around. Leaders should not be afraid of having a candid dialogue to address issues. 
As a takeaway message, the group urged participants to build culture intentionally by first investing the time required to lay out the basic norms, values, and behaviors. Leaders should also plan for the inevitable major disruptions; organization with an intentional culture can withstand the storm. Finally, the presenters encouraged participants in the room not to underestimate their individual roles in building high-preforming teams.