The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups is a 2017 book written by Daniel Coyle. In its pages, Coyle studies the principles and secrets of successful teams so that readers can integrate those ideas into their own organizations and companies.
A 3 Minute Summary of the 15 Core Lessons
#1 Vulnerability is First
The common idea in many Western cultures, especially in the business world, is that trust is necessary before you can be vulnerable with others and with your followers as a leader. But Coyle contests the vulnerability is necessary for trust in all social relations. This requires that leaders must be vulnerable with their followers, which includes honesty and integrity even if they make mistakes.
#2 Followers Must Feel Safe
In tandem with the above, Coyle says that your followers need to feel safe and that they belong with your group or organization for them to fully buy into your mission and provide their best efforts. This includes being honest with them and sending signals that they can trust you and be open about their insecurities and goals.
#3 Purpose is Clarifying
Whenever you’re outlining your objectives to your followers, a good leader striving to create a strong business culture should always keep the overall purpose of the venture first and foremost. Purpose helps your followers and you tailor the culture toward your ultimate goal without getting bogged down in short-term gains and losses.
#4 Safety Breeds Cooperation
If you successfully make a safe and purposeful environment for your followers, you’ll foster a company culture that inspires people to work together. No one achieved great works on their own, and if you want your workers to trust and work well with one another they need to feel safe and led by a leader with a singular vision. Cooperation without competition is the way for companies that have strong cultures.
#5 Reveal Your Failures
As a leader, one of the best ways you can show vulnerability is to reveal your own mistakes and admit when you come up short. Not only does this show your strength to your followers but it also tells your employees that is acceptable to make mistakes from time to time. This will stop your employees from trying to cover up their faults and will also cause them to trust you more fully.
#6 Keep the End Goal Simple
Whatever your guiding star ultimate goal is, it should be simple and purposeful. Don’t have your venture’s end result be a complicated achievement that can’t be easily distilled into a few sentences or less. Some up all of the beliefs and values of your team or company into a single final goal and your followers will be able to keep this in mind more easily.
#7 Keep Workers Physically Close
When designing your office space or deciding where most of your endeavor’s activity is going to take place, try to keep yourself and your followers close in proximity. While it’s important that everyone has their own space, keeping everyone close together increases the number of innovations and cooperation between you and your followers.
#8 Constantly Thank Your Followers
According to Coyle, there is no limit to the amount of thank you’s and gratitude you can give to your employees. Your followers love to be recognized for their work and their achievements, so don’t hold back on letting them know exactly how proud you are and how thrilled you are with their efforts thus far.
#9 Practice Failure Drills
It’s similarly important to always have an action plan in place for when the inevitable happens and a mistake is made for you experience a pitfall. If you are prepared for any eventuality, shortcomings won’t hurt your company so much and your overall corporate culture will be able to withstand significant setbacks without imploding.
#10 Be Very Honest
In our culture, Coyle says, we often don’t really say what we mean which causes miscommunication and frustration. Instead, leaders looking to build a strong business culture will always be very direct in what they say and mean. This applies to both the praise dole out to your employees and any criticism you might have. Don’t be mean, but acknowledge when they have made some mistake.
#11 Employ Physical Touch
You don’t necessarily have to hug all of your followers, but Coyle suggests that organizations with a strong interior culture often employ physical touch frequently. This includes shaking hands and placing your hand on the shoulders of your friends or comrades. Physical touch binds humans together automatically, so utilize this to make everyone feel like they are part of a more solidified group.
#12 No Long Speeches
Coyle also says that rambling on during a long speech is a great way to draw too much attention to yourself and make people feel that they aren’t being listened to. If you do need to address all of your employees, keep your speeches short, sweet, and to the point.
#13 Don’t Interrupt
When you’re listening to an employee, either as they explain an idea or they are giving you feedback, don’t interrupt them. This will make them feel like they are truly listened to and will find them closer to you as a leader. This is critical for establishing an open line of communication between you and your followers and ensuring that honesty is the rule rather than the exception.
#14 Eye Contact
Good leaders will make liberal use of eye contact when conversing with their followers. Eye contact makes people feel intimate and connected. Not only will this make people trust you and feel more vulnerable in your presence but they will also usually emulate the activity, causing eye contact around your culture to grow on its own.
#15 Ask Questions
Finally, Coyle suggests that leaders should ask lots of questions from their followers. Questions enable your followers to talk about themselves and reveal their desires and hopes, as well as their worries. This is a great way to get feedback and build a personal connection with all of your followers at the same time.
Top 10 Quotes from The Culture Code
- “Vulnerability doesn’t come after trust—it precedes it. Leaping into the unknown, when done alongside others, causes the solid ground of trust to materialize beneath our feet.”
- “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.”
- “The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.”
- “Belonging cues are behaviors that create safe connection in groups. They include, among others, proximity, eye contact, energy, mimicry, turn taking, attention, body language, vocal pitch, consistency of emphasis, and whether everyone talks to everyone else in the group.”
- “The number-one job is to take care of each other. I didn’t always know that, but I know it now.”
- “As Dave Cooper says, I screwed that up are the most important words any leader can say.”
- “We are all paid to solve problems. Make sure to pick fun people to solve problems with.”
- “Give a mediocre idea to a good team, and they’ll find a way to make it better. The goal needs to be to get the team right, get them moving in the right direction, and get them to see where they are making mistakes and where they are succeeding.”
- “Envision a reachable goal, and envision the obstacles. The thing is, as Oettingen discovered, this method works, triggering significant changes in behavior and motivation.”
- “While successful culture can look and feel like magic, the truth is that it’s not. Culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. It’s not something you are. It’s something you do.”
Free PDF Download of the Summary to Save or Print
Go here to download The Culture Code PDF Summary.
Daniel Discusses Improving Group Culture
Coyle’s Secrets of Highly Successful Teams
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