Book Review: The Culture Code–Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

I recently read The Culture Code: Secrets of Highly Successful Groupsby Dan Coyle.


Highly recommend:  Actionable tips for leaders on building a successful culture.

I felt like this book was great for a few reasons.

First – Dan organizes around three key skills: building safety, sharing vulnerability, and establishing purpose.  For each of these, the author gives concrete, tactical recommendations on things leaders can do to carry these out in their organizations.

Second, Dan gives examples from an incredibly diverse group of organizations.  He talks about top-rated restaurants, comedy groups, military units, elementary schools.   It felt like anyone reading would learn a little about a new industry or team.

Third, he finishes with a story of how he put these principles into practice in coaching a group of students in a writing competition.   He used this story to give incredibly detailed, tangible examples of how to put these actions into practice.

I also felt like he highlighted a few key behaviors that are underappreciated, but crucial:

  • Accompanying feedback with a simple reminder: “I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.”
  • Be vulnerable:  it’s often enough to say, as the person in charge, that you don’t have all the answers and you need help.
  • Shape the environment: high performing teams have constant reminders in their environment of where they want to go, the kind of organization they want to be.
  • Use catchy phrases to connect behaviors and priorities.  He gives examples like “Pressure is a privilege” or “The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.”  Leaders of great teams found ways to make reminders of key behaviors easy to remember and repeat.
  • Repeating yourself as a leader:  many signals of purpose can be viewed as redundant or unnecessary.  But “the value of those signals is not in their information but in the fact that they orient the team to the task and to one another.  What seems like repetition is, in fact, navigation.”

Recommended for anyone leading a team or working to build a culture.



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