Episode 242: Daniel Coyle – The Secret Of Highly Successful Groups (The Culture Code)

Daniel Coyle is the New York Times bestselling author of The Talent Code, The Little Book of Talent, The Secret Race (co-authored with Tyler Hamilton), Hardball: A Season in Projects, and other books.  Winner (with Hamilton) of the 2012 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Prize, he is a contributing editor for Outside Magazine, and works as a special advisor to the Cleveland Indians. Coyle lives in Cleveland, Ohio during the school year and in Homer, Alaska, during the summer with his wife Jen, and their four children.

Episode 242: Daniel Coyle – The Secret Of Highly Successful Groups (The Culture Code)

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“We tend to think that great culture is like DNA – some groups have it and some don’t. As it turns out, that’s not true. Great culture is something you can learn.”

Show Notes:

  • Sustained Excellence = “They’re over themselves” – They do not have an ego. They figure out the big truths, get over feelings, have clarity, vision. Great communicators – Like an athlete, they can be obsessed.  Keenly aware, active listeners, intentional with actions.
  • Why write The Culture Code?
  • Spending time around great teams and businesses, “I love the vibe, it’s different.” Had a desire to understand how that happens.  How to create trust. “Typically we think of culture as in your DNA or not, but it’s not.  “Great culture is something you can learn.” The competition with Dan’s two brothers growing up led to this fascination and curiosity with building great team culture”We routinely deeply underestimate our environments and the effect they have on us.”
  • “As leaders, we need to create the conditions for excellence”
    • The 3 Skills — 1) Build Safety 2) Share Vulnerability 3) Establish Purpose
  • Build Safety – Why do a group of kindergartners do better than a group of CEOs?  The kindergartners have no agenda or care about credit.  They focus on doing the best work.  CEOs (in the study) were worried about who got credit and tearing each other down.
  • Safety is the single most important piece of foundation needed for great culture
  • Greg Popovich overdoes the “thank yous” – He regularly says thank you to the members of his team.
  • A painstaking hiring process – The single most important decision is “who’s in and who’s out.”
  • You should script the entire first few days of a new employees time at a company — Pixar example (20 minute mark) — “At Pixar, we hired you because we need you to help us make our movies better.”
  • John Wooden would routinely walk the locker room and pick up trash
  • Share Vulnerability – Functional notion that’s so important
  • “Sharing a weakness is the best way to be strong” — Navy SEALs example: The AAR (After Action Review)
  • The most important 4 words a leader can say, “Anybody have any ideas?”
    • Also, “I screwed up”
  • Over-communicate expectations
    • “We shoot, move, and communicate
    • “The only easy day was yesterday”
  • How to be a great listener
    • “Your goal as a listener should be to add energy.” Ask questions, don’t just sit there and nod.  Listen and absorb.  Help them leave higher than when you arrived.  Follow up to go deeper.  Being a great listener is a heroic skill.
    • Have “empathy and energy” as a listener — dig in to assumptions (unearth)
  • Aim for candor, but avoid brutal honesty – good groups care about relationships, not brutality.  Candor is a better word
  • “Culture: From the Latin word cultus, which means care.”
  • Great teams are made up of players who don’t want to let their teammates down.
  • Greg Popovich and other great coaches disappear on purpose to let their team figure out it through tough moments.  Smart leaders create opportunities for teams to struggle and figure it out. –> “The leaders job is to make the team great without him/her.”
  • Build a wall between performance review and professional development — When you combine the two, you get neither.  Toggle, create safety so you can be more open and honest.
  • Establish Purpose
  • What’s important now?  You must define that
  • Value statements aren’t super useful — “fill the windshield with a story.”
  • Clear narratives guide attention
  • Name and rank your priorities

“CULTURE: from the Latin cultus, which means care.”

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