Winning Culture

– one for all and all for one

When you, as a leader, want to build a winning culture on your team or department, you probably want every one of your colleagues and employees to be professionally competent, staying up-to-date with the latest business developments and able to effectively stay focused on core tasks.

But it takes more to create a winning culture.

Relationships and responsibility are vital keywords. All employees must feel so comfortable in the organization that they dare showing up as themselves, with their individual strengths and weaknesses. This enables them to openly connect to and relate with colleagues. It is not necessary to love everyone. After all, it’s a workplace, not a family. However, everyone must understand that they have an important responsibility for the workplace and that every conversation either makes a relationship stronger or is in the process of breaking it down.

The motto from The Three Musketeers: “One for all, all for one” works well for the ambitious organization that wants to build a winning culture. As a starting point, the employees like each other and want to support each other in open collaboration. If not, disagreements or conflicts must out in the open to be resolved immediately.

In a winning culture, employees and leaders are on the same team and the musketeer-oath applies across hierarchies and professional groups. It feels natural to take ownership of the organization’s mission and core deliveries and it feels natural to be proud of being part of the story of this particular organization.

All people have a basic need of being seen and heard. In a winning culture, this means that everyone takes responsibility and walks the extra mile when needed. It is important to spend time talking together in an open and appreciative way.

Winner culture is also a learning culture. Leaders and employees must be aware of what they do when they succeed. They should be happy to work in an organization where people are constantly encouraged to grow and to share knowledge.

In Leadership Lighthouse, we help ambitious organizations to develop winning culture. The choice of methods is tailor-made every time. It can be a lengthy process, but sometimes it happens quickly. The important thing is that you have the will and the courage to formulate the experience you would like your colleagues to have – and then get started to make it happen.

Culture does not just happen by itself. Culture is created. Which culture would you like to create?

Feedback Culture

– Shortcut to well-being and clarity

People give each other feedback all the time. We cannot avoid it. Unless we have our eyes closed and our fingers in our ears, we are constantly exchanging messages with those we are around. Why not use this traffic of valuable communication that is constantly flowing through all organizations?

We need other people’s recognition to confirm that we exist and have value. It makes us whole to have good conversations with other people. When we are recognized and understood by others, we know that we belong on the team. We get a clear understanding of who we are and how we might contribute more of our personal and professional qualities to the community.

The opposite happens when other people meet us with their judgments and interpretations, no matter how well-intentioned they may be. We quickly start to defend ourselves or start thinking about how we can find faults within the person we are talking to.

One of the most effective – and at the same time educational and developing – ways to create good relationships with colleagues is to ask them for feedback. You may experience small miracles when you begin to do that. Within a few weeks you can change the whole atmosphere of your organization. You have started to create a feedback culture.

All the energy you used to spend figuring out what others think of you can now be used for constructive conversations and creative processes while enjoying each other’s company – each day helping each other to achieve even better results.

Your concerns about whether you are good enough are being replaced by a clear understanding of what others notice in your behavior – and how your behavior impact them. That enables you to take effective, targeted action if needed, or simply enjoying that there was no reason to worry.

When Leadership Lighthouse helps organizations develop their feedback culture, we usually use the following simple manual to help employees get started.

  1. Think about what you would like to learn about yourself in a specific work situation.
  2. Ask a colleague to pay attention to you. Let them know what you want them to look for.
  3. Explain that they just have to observe you and notice how their observations impact them. Like a detective or witness in a courtroom – without interpretations or judgments on what they see and hear.
  4. Agree when and where to meet afterwards so you can receive your feedback. Conversations must be short, maybe just 5 minutes. Once you have heard what your colleague has observed, you have a concrete, factual basis for asking or reflecting on how you might want others to see you. The process has started. Through short, accurate feedback conversations, the organization is moving towards even greater well-being and clarity – prerequisites for an effective organizational performance.

Our favorite feedback model


– We are all leaders!

Since the former McKinsey consultant Frederic Laloux wrote the book Reinventing Organization in 2014, thinking has accelerated in areas of self-organization, self-management, holistic thinking, decentralized decisions and purposeful leadership.

Self-organization is an answer to what organizations can set up as an alternative to the modern, hierarchical and compliance-driven growth-for-growth-only organization. The number of stressed, frustrated, dissatisfied leaders and employees in traditionally led organizations is worryingly high. Self-organization cannot, with a magic stroke, make everything radiate success, but this approach to leadership and organization offers some deeply meaningful and, at the same time, quite simple alternative ways of organizing.

The basic idea of self-organization is: We are all leaders. The hierarchical and often bureaucratic set-up has been replaced by a flat organization where everyone – regardless of job function – has the ability to make important decisions.

Can it really work? The answer is: Yes! Worldwide, thousands of organizations, including large industrial companies, are organized wholly or partly based on the principles of self-organization.

This structure presents new demands on employees. They have to deal with complex issues and strategic decisions that were formerly made by the leaders. They must take responsibility for solving all sorts of problems. Problems will still arise regardless of the form of organization. And now there are no leaders to refer the problems to.

This increased responsibility and ownership can free up a huge potential for professional and personal development among employees. In order for this to succeed, it is crucial that the organization develops simple and effective communication and feedback habits. Then the best ideas are heard, the daily quality assurance and development can take place efficiently, and the employees’ development occurs on a factual and informed basis.

Leadership Lighthouse collaborates closely with the consultancy firm AGORA, which specializes in self-organization. We offer internal business courses, workshops, open courses and individual sparring with leaders who want to understand more about the organizations of the future.

Read more about self-organization here.

Core Qualities

– Why complicate things?

The Core Quadrant® is a development tool that simultaneously teaches you about yourself and your surroundings. You get specific input on how you can develop and strengthen your behavior as a leader or professional, and at the same time the Core Quadrant® helps you collaborate better and more smoothly with others.

The Core Quadrant® has a number of qualities that most personality tests contain, but adds an extra action level that makes it particularly suitable for anyone working in teams.

The methodology was developed by Dutch engineer and leadership-consultant Daniel Ofman. He says: “The model is almost suspiciously simple. It can be explained in 10 minutes. Then you spend two hours on it – or the rest of your life.” He is right. You can observe its effects in no time. Below, the model with its 4 steps is reviewed.

The 4 quadrants

The Core Quadrant® is based on what Daniel Ofman calls core qualities. All people have core qualities. These are attributes that we almost take for granted. Often, we do not even think they are anything special, but when others talk about us, they will often emphasize precisely these qualities. Examples of core qualities are untroubled, determination, persistence, risk-taking … the list is endless.

But all qualities can become too much of a good thing. When that happens, we risk sliding into what is called the Pitfall in Ofmans model. When the quality “untroubled” becomes too much, it ends up as “superficiality” or “indifference.” This will be our Pitfall if we have the core quality: “untroubled.”

Along with a pitfall we get a Challenge. This is the quality that represents the positive contrast to the Pitfall. If the Pitfall is “superficiality”, the Challenge can be “seriousness”. The Core Quality and the Challenge must, as far as possible, balance each other, so the person, in this example, could advantageously aim at developing behavior with untroubled seriousness. Initially, it may sound counterintuitive, but the model helps us to think both-and rather than either-or.

When “seriousness” becomes too much of a good thing, it can evolve into “pessimism” or extreme “negativity.” This leads us to the fourth quadrant, the Allergy. When a person who has “untroubled” as a Core Quality meets a pessimist, they will often clash. But in reality, the pessimist has just too much of the quality called seriousness that the untroubled person could use a little more of. In other words, he can learn a part of the person he can´t stand at first.

Kim Fogh is certified in the Core Quadrant® by Daniel Ofman. Leadership Lighthouse offers company workshops and personal sparring based on the Core Quadrant-method.

Hear Daniel Ofman introduce the The Core Quadrant® here.