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Strategies for Business Leaders to Create a High-Achieving Culture

Today’s business leaders talk about getting their employees engaged, but too few know how to enable them to be part of some of the company’s key decisions.

Today’s business leaders talk a lot about getting their employees engaged in the business, but too few know how to enable them to be part of some of the company’s key decisions. On top of that, executives don’t always go about getting their workers excited to be part of the team.

Those are just some of the things best-selling author Adrian Gostick will address when he hosts a keynote session, “7 Steps Managers Can Use to Create a High-Achieving Culture,” at the 2014 NSCA Business and Leadership Conference. Gostick, who recently published All In, said his latest work is a compilation of findings after talking to more than 300,000 people in various segments of the business world whose companies were outperforming their peers at least two or three times over.

“We want people to be engaged in business, but we’ve known that for a long time,” says Gostick. “So why are engagement levels on the decline for the last few years? The companies with great cultures know you not only have to engage your employees, but you also need to enable them and energize them too.”

Through his research, Gostick identified several steps leaders can take to achieve this engagement, enabling and energizing.

“Great leaders have agility,” he says. “They’re very clear about where the organization is going and what their customers need, and they’re able to adjust as those needs change.” They also “establish clear accountability,” and that’s meant in a positive way, says Gostick.

Related: What Makes NSCA’s BLC Different?

“People want and like to be rewarded when they deliver on an assignment or complete a task,” he adds. “The important thing is to always make sure your conversations and the things you do are spoken in terms of the customer.”

Gostick says he’s given similar presentations to the one he’ll offer in Dallas in late February about 100 times, with audiences ranging from NBA and professional soccer teams to doctors and technology experts and other corporate groups. He’ll also lead a post-keynote discussion, though not the traditional Q&A kind.

“I try to make it funny and engaging,” he says. “I believe people want to be challenged and that sometimes that’s the only way they’ll realize maybe they need to change what they’ve been doing. Even though a lot of the material is the same when I present it, the audience helps to make it more specific and tailored to them.”

Gostick typically explores and addresses frustrations he knows most business leaders feel when it comes to building the type of company culture outlined in his keynote. That comes through looking at your own strengths and weaknesses and building a team that has a variety of talents and interests.

“It’s about understanding the world from the human function,” says Gostick.

And while the tips and tools are certainly aimed at helping BLC attendees improve their businesses, they can also be applied on the homefront in many cases, he says.

“We’re all trying to figure out how to have better relationships, not just with our co-workers but with our spouses and our children too,” says Gostick. “What I hope people walk away with is the need to be better at recognizing the people on our teams.”

To that end, Gostick says, most people in the business world today need to hear at least five positive comments about themselves and their work to every negative comment to feel like they have a positive relationship with their employer. Those who hear about three positives for every negative often consider that a neutral relationship, while a 1:1 ratio is considered by most to be a negative work environment.

“Managers need to understand when they’re giving praise and they add a ‘but,’ what most people walk away with and remember is that ‘but,'” says Gostick. “There’s a way to give the information and the feedback you need to convey in a way that doesn’t take away someone’s enthusiasm or excitement.”

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