A strong culture is critical for the success of all teams, whether it be in sport or in business. It’s always been a key focus for sporting teams, both elite and amateur, and yet when it comes to business, 83% of the world’s workforce are not engaged at work.

In sport we see passion, purpose, shared vision, spirit and unity. It’s infectious! People usually play for the love of the game and the love of their team, rarely just for the money. On the other hand, most disengaged employees would change employers right now for as little as a 5% pay increase! So what are we missing?

While all businesses aspire to ignite similar levels of enthusiasm and dedication in their people, this has always been a challenge in the business world, until now! Having assisted 42 sporting teams to grand finals, with 30 going on to win Premierships, it’s become abundantly clear to me that there are striking similarities and common links between their success, and the success of high performing businesses. In sport and in business, the number one key to a teams’ success (or failure) is its people. And what’s the number one key to the success of your people? Engagement. Most forward thinking organisations now appreciate the importance of investing in engagement strategies, implementing standard reward & recognition programs to motivate and reward good behaviours and attitudes.

Without HIGHLY engaged people, the leadership message cannot be heard

While these types of solutions certainly have their place, they can only be effective when operating as part of a broader strategy. The first step in the right direction is the creation of a winning culture. Strong culture and engagement are integral to each other’s survival. A quality culture can be defined as one united group with the same positive mindset owning and working towards the same winning vision. Many organisations believe that strong leadership, and an exclusive focus on the development of their leaders is the key to a winning culture. They are mistaken. It is the people and their contribution that will make or break your business. Organisations live and die by the people they employ – no matter what industry. Without actively engaged people, the leadership message cannot be heard. At the centre of the most successful teams is the strategic empowerment and development of all team members, ensuring a clear pipeline to leadership and engagement.

In sport, the best teams know that success relies heavily on the contribution of everyone in the playing group. The trust and camaraderie within the team keeps them aligned and on track, and all players have the necessary skills and knowhow to be accountable, support their team, and embrace any level of pressure. While business would benefit from adopting this sporting methodology, many attempt to do so with limited or short-lived success. Many of us understand the power of this line of attack; in theory it’s great! It’s the adaptation and implementation that businesses struggle with. So how do we get there – and quickly? We start by putting the right system and strategies in place to ensure massive, rapid and sustainable change.

Are Your Employees WE or ME?

There are two types of people in every organisation. The WE people and the ME people. If you have a critical mass of ME people you will always come second or lower. These organisations simply cannot handle pressure when it matters. WE will always WIN. The first thing you must do is ensure that your Leaders are 100% WE.

Collective Accountability

Critical for fast and sustainable success. It’s about ensuring everyone is regularly, and publically held accountable in the right environment. All involved should commit to, and regularly report on these key accountabilities of which they set for themselves. This will ensure new habits are nurtured and old habits are purged.

Equality Creates Unity

Necessary to ensure team unity. The traditional hierarchical structure is not the most efficient option for businesses these days. Instead, successful companies are moving to an organisational structure that empowers, allowing employees to make more of their own decisions and avoid the rigidity of traditional models. This cultivates long-term buy in and ownership.

Habitual Leadership Acts

Mainstream leadership training is generally knowledge based, not action based. Habitual Leadership is ongoing, and is all about actions. Leaders are not usually held accountable for the short or long term, which is why current leadership training strategies generally fail. We too often fall back in to bad habits when returned to an unchanged environment. Sustained success requires consistent reflection and improvement.

The 2 Fundamentals

There are two fundamental requirements when building a thriving organisation:

1) Quality systems, processors and game plans, which I call ‘the brain’ of the organisation.

2) Quality leadership, engagement and culture, which I call ‘the heart’ of the organisation.

The two most important organs of the body are the brain and the heart, and we cannot survive without them functioning. They will work on small portions of blood flow, but they will be working harder than they should be, and it’s not sustainable long term. I liken this to analogy to most organisations that are just surviving. If you have an unlimited amount of blood flow, full of fresh oxygen, the brain and heart will work in unison at full capacity, and it will be better equipped if there are problems. This creates a thriving body (or organisation).

Dynamic Flow

Good communication is the bloodline of any successful business, and if communication is slow, then the organisation cannot flow. In larger businesses, departments often struggle to cross-pollinate relationships because individuals don’t know who their colleagues are, only what they do. No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

‘Group Activation Systems’

We now understand that it can’t be left to a few leaders within a business to create team engagement. Without actively engaged employees, the leadership message will be heavily diluted, and motivation will quickly fade. The heart of your organisation is its people and their contribution. We need to turn our attention to our staff, getting them actively engaged regularly through new, innovative and inclusive methods. Company training is the least desirable way to learn. Instead you need an all-inclusive Group Activation System that is neurologically designed and proven to reactivate employees.

90% of today’s business leaders think an engagement strategy has a positive effect on commercial success, yet only 25% of them have a game plan! In today’s competitive world, your people are your edge. Old school business strategies and ‘knowledge dumping’ training programs are no longer sufficient when it comes to employee activation. The game has changed. Have you changed your game to keep up?

Richard Maloney is quickly becoming known as the world no. 1 team engagement expert as he leads over 100 coaches in 60+ countries. He is fascinated by the impact of human behaviour in both the business and sport. With extensive experience in these industries, his view is radically different and he is disrupting the L&D and HR and sports psychology industries with his bold statement: Traditional training is dead. Richard has used his strategy from the sports arena to work and transform athletes and business leaders around the world. He has been focusing on helping businesses improve mental wellbeing, culture, engagement and leadership and has recently been recognised as a as a finalist in the Australian Optus Business Awards as Business Leader of the Year and Export Business of the Year. Richard is also the author of ‘The Minds of Winning Teams – Creating Team Success Through Engagement & Culture’