Creating a Culture of Excellence with Tom Peters

Tiffani Bova
Feb 25 · 4 min read

Think about it, have you ever seen a tombstone with someone’s net worth on it? No. That’s not what matters. What matters in life and business is relationships, embracing differences, and pushing yourself to make sure you don’t get caught in the same trap.

I was thrilled to interview Tom Peters on my What’s Next! podcast. As one of the most exceptional management, sales and marketing thinkers around, Tom wholeheartedly believes in matching people to culture; otherwise, any company culture will simply fall apart.

To create a culture of excellence, you must set a precedent in the way you lead. This requires gaining a new perspective on how to successfully build the relationships the diverse individuals that your company is built around.

According to Tom, here are ten essentials to creating a culture of excellence:

  1. Become close to your customers. Excellent companies provide great service because they know how to get close to their customers. Other companies talk about it but excellent companies do it.
  2. Put your customers first and your people before anyone else. If your employees are happy and you treat them right, it will naturally result in them treating your customers right. This is why your customers can never be happier than your employees.
  3. Hire people for listening, caring and smiling. An excellent culture is created at the start of the hiring process which means you must pay close attention to candidates who listen, smile and say thank you.
  4. Be the leader that develops their people. When most people talk about leadership, they focus on authenticity and vision. But what they need to start talking about is what leaders do on a day-to-day basis: hire people, listen, evaluate, and promote.
  5. Stay positive. You can’t fake enthusiasm but no matter how your day is…well, true leaders don’t have bad days.
  6. Pay attention to the quiet ones. A person’s enthusiasm is not related to a person’s decibel. In fact, it may be inversely related. Don’t forget to pay attention to the introverts in the room.
  7. Slow down. God doesn’t demand that you respond to all emails within 37 seconds. It is important to slow down, take a deep breath and put more thought into your actions. Being in a frenzy does not lead to excellence.
  8. Manage by wandering around. It’s important to check in with your employees and the best way to do so is for management to simply wander around the workplace and randomly check in and lend your support on ongoing work. Take 10 minutes and walk around with no goal in mind. Let your thoughts be quiet.
  9. Embrace new technology. There are always new forms of technology to leverage in business, but it is important to remember that excellence is found in humans, not technology.
  10. Experience an emotional connection. Experience is not an engineering term. Creating an experience in your work environment can create more smiles, more satisfaction, and overall happiness at work.

One of the things that Tom admits has changed about leadership since he started writing about it 30 years ago, is the degree to which leaders expose their best selves to different people and ideas. However, when it comes to leadership, Tom likes to remind people that “people are still people,” that and listening, caring, smiling, saying thank you and being warm are qualities as old as the creation of humans and are fundamental to creating excellence.

Over the course of his or her career, a leader has the opportunity to significantly affect the development of their fellow human beings. Take a moment to step back and give people the space to say what they are thinking. Building teams and coaching is all about the people side of business, not the shiny stuff.

Tom Peters is the co-author of In Search of Excellence and is one of the most exceptional management, sales, and marketing thinkers around. This book has been tagged as the “best business book ever,” a genre that has changed many companies.

Listen to our conversation and subscribe to the What’s Next! podcast on Apple Podcasts.

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Tiffani Bova

Written by

Global Growth & Innovation Evangelist, Salesforce | Sales and Transformation Adviser | Book: Growth IQ| Podcast: What's Next! | Former Research Fellow Gartner

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