The Performance Pathway is the most important system to understand if you want a team that executes with discipline and energy. Leaders create culture. Culture drives behavior. Behavior produces results. The Performance Pathway exists in every team, including yours, whether people are aware of it or not. Implementing this simple and powerful system is the key to align, accelerate, and grow.
It's important to read the the pathway from left to right so you can understand the cause & effect. It's also important to read it from right to left and reverse-engineer that same cause & effect flow. Results are produced by the behavior of people. How people behave (attitude, action, words) is mostly shaped by the culture they operate in. The culture is created, communicated, and coached by leaders.
Leaders Create Culture
The role of a leader is to design, define, align, and refine The Performance Pathway. That starts with culture. Leaders own a big responsibility.
But what is culture?
Culture is talked about all the time but barely anyone understands what it is, what role it plays, and why it matters. If you've heard anything from me, then you know the role of culture is to drive execution through behavior. But how does culture do that and how do you create a culture that produces the behaviors needed by your strategy?
The effectiveness of your leadership—the way you bring clarity to your priorities, the support and training you provide, the direction you set, how you hold people accountable when they fall short, how you reward those who exceed the expectations—all these things drive and create culture.
The way you establish standards for your organization is what I call your Culture Playbook. It's a way for you to organize, with exceptional clarity, the intersection of your culture and strategy that determines your execution.
Culture Drives Behavior
Culture is the strongest driver of day-to-day behavior on a team. It determines how people on your team actually behave and what they actually execute.
Having a strategy for the results you want is good, but strategies are essentially a plan. Culture determines how well you execute your plans. Execution is the intersection of culture and strategy. When execution falls short because behaviors weren't up to standard, it's largely because the culture wasn't strong enough or aligned enough.
Want better results?
Everyone on the team has to look at their own behavior. Study better, sell better, have better attitudes, endure circumstances, learn new things, work together, trust more, learn how to connect and persuade, and do all the things required for your team to succeed. That's as much a personal factor as it is a culture factor.
Behavior Produces Results
The results your organization is producing -- or not producing -- is a direct reflection of the behavior of people. If behavior is average you see average results or worse. When behavior is great, goals are met, and results excel.
If your team is underperforming it's likely because behavior isn't good enough to produce the results you want. Average behavior needs to be addressed by the culture.
Four Ways to Lead The Performance Pathway
Build culture based on the needs of your strategy. Intentionally, with purpose, and with skill.
Your strategy calls for behavior from your team and culture is how you make sure those behaviors are performed.
You can design what your pathway needs to look like for your organization. The same elements exist for all organizations—leaders, culture, and behavior. What goes into them, the style, the standards, the principles, the beliefs, the technicalities, the frequencies of how those things unfold. Those are all unique and determined by the leadership of your organization.
Define what effective leadership looks like. Define what the culture standards are and why they're there, a purpose behind those culture standards. Define the behaviors. Define what people need to do to be successful. Define what people can't do if they want to keep working with you. Define how people need to go about their jobs. Define the standards of how your organization operates and where they have the freedom to bring their own standards.
Align your leadership. Align your culture. Align your behavior. These three must be in alignment with your organization's strategy. Misalignment can do a lot of damage, even in organization's with great leaders, great culture, and great behavior. More than anything else, a lack of alignment is wasting valuable time and energy as your efforts are working in the same direction. The easiest way to get alignment in your leadership, your culture, and your organization's behavior is to bring exceptional clarity through intentional communication.
The Performance Pathway is not a static thing. It is not a set it and forget it part of your organization. No, the Performance Pathway is a constantly evolving, constantly imperfect, constantly in need of tweaks and adjustments system.
Leadership is a massively complex element in any organization. Now we're adding an interactive element of leadership, an interactive element of culture, an interactive and by-far the most deeply complex area—the behavior of people, particularly in a group—with the pressure, stress, fatigue, and outcomes on the line.
Leaders are constantly refining how that pathway operates. Because as soon as you get it aligned, the nature of growth is that something fall out of alignment, and that's why we are in a position to lead. Because as a leader we are uniquely qualified to changing circumstances and making adjustments when needed.
Leaders can design, define, align, and refine the Performance Pathway to their organization's advantage, and it's their role as a leader to do so.
If you want to accelerate results, if you want to improve your processes, if you want to serve, if you want to compete, if you want to change your strategy, if you want to attract more talent—the performance pathway is something that you have to pay attention to.
Do The Work.