I had a fantastic weekend attending the Cardinals and Cubs series in St. Louis with a bunch of high school and college friends, and family that are fellow Cardinal fans. It was so enjoyable sharing memories and catching up on our lives, and at the same time watching the Cardinals outscore the Cubs 23 – 1 for the weekend.

In the second game of the series it was a 0 – 0 game through six innings and then the Cardinals scored 12 runs in the seventh inning. They tied a record that had last been achieved in 1926 so I would say we saw history.

After six scoreless innings and then an outburst like that, as well as taking out the Cubs in game three with a 7 – 0 victory, I got to thinking about the importance of momentum. Once the hits started coming in that inning, it seemed to be contagious, the team morale just kept rising as the inning progressed, as did the enthusiasm in the crowd. My voice is still not quite back to normal! It is really fun to be a part of that positive momentum.

I feel that momentum is just as important in building a purpose driven, values based culture as it is in sports. I am working with a number of companies to help them frame up their purpose and their behaviorally defined values as they work on building their desired culture. Early on in this process the work is challenging and some times teams wonder if the culture will ever take off in the desired direction.

Building a culture is truly a process and a journey that will never end, but it definitely needs to start somewhere, and building momentum is a very important part of the process. Key ways to build momentum would include:

  • Once well articulated and defined, let all the employees know that this purpose and values are what will now be the “boss” and will guide all actions and decisions within the company.
  • Share stories and celebrate when people have modeled the behaviors that you are looking for within the culture.
  • Take decisive action with team members that consistently do not model the expected behaviors of the organization.
  • As a leader be intentional about finding out how team members are perceiving how well you as a leader are modeling the values, and make the necessary corrections to your behavior based on their feedback.
  • Minimally spend 50% of your leadership time and effort focusing on people and driving the desired culture.

Once started, momentum is hard to slow down, as this culture shift will become the focus of attention for employees and customers in an extremely positive way. Team members will be cheering on team members, you will become the desired place to work, customers will want to work with you, and your performance will improve.  Wow, positive momentum is fun!

Mark Deterding