14 Best TED Talks on Company Culture & Building Teams

TED talks are a great resource to learn from the experts on almost any topic. I recently published a list of the best talks for your job search. Here, I’ve curated the best TED talks on company culture and what managers should be thinking about when hiring and building teams. Whether you’re still not sure of the benefits of creating a great culture (where have you been?) or looking for inspiration on how to improve it, no matter how big or small your company, this is a great starting place.

1. Dan Ariely: What makes us feel good about our work?

In this talk, Dan Ariely outlines two experiments that highlight what motivates us to work. He suggests that you should create a culture of acknowledgement and meaning for a more productive, happier workforce.

2. Jason Fried: Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work

Here, Jason Fried argues the reason things don’t get done at work is because people get distracted by managers and meetings (or “M&Ms”). He distinguishes between voluntary and involuntary distractions, claiming that involuntary distractions happen the most while at the office. One argument that hit home with me, was that 10 people in a 1 hour meeting could be seen as 10 hours of productivity taken away from the business.

3. Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Simon Sinek has an incredibly simple model for how leaders can be inspirational. He shows, with examples like Apple, how great leaders inspire action with the ‘why’ — the purpose, the mission etc.

4. Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation

In this talk, Dan Pink looks at using rewards to motivate people. He argues that traditional rewards are not effective — financial incentives can actually have a negative impact on overall performance. You should focus on three things instead — autonomy, mastery and purpose.

5. David Logan: Tribal leadership

All of our work gets done within tribes. What differentiates these tribes and therefore the work, is the culture of the tribe. David Logan outlines the 5 stages of tribal culture, with the idea that great leaders can speak the language of all stages and help people and tribes move up the stages.

6. Ricardo Semler: How to run a company with (almost) no rules

Here, Ricardo Semler discusses a new way of doing business and generally living your life. It is built around work-life balance and complete corporate democracy. Autonomy is a big part of this, with the idea that if you get the work done, it doesn’t matter when, where or how you do it.

7. Simon Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe

“Great leaders would rather sacrifice the numbers to save the people, than sacrifice the people to save the numbers.” Another talk from Simon Sinek, which highlights the need for trust, cooperation and the feeling of ‘safety’ within organisations.

8. Rainer Strack: The workforce crisis of 2030 — and how to start solving it now

This eye opening talk highlights the importance of being able to attract talent in the future. The top 4 things that people look for in a job are all related to company culture — salary only comes in at number 8.

9. Itay Talgam: Lead like the great conductors

In this talk, Itay Talgam shares the lessons that leaders can learn from orchestra conductors. For example, a leader’s job (as with a conductor) is to enable others to do their best work, all at the same time.

10. Stanley McChrystal: Listen, learn … then lead

General Stanley McChrystal uses examples of his experiences in the forces to explore how leaders must build a shared sense of purpose, within an increasingly diverse team, by listening and learning.

11. Derek Sivers How to start a movement

This is a quick talk from Derek Sivers, where he uses a quick video to show how movements get started. One major point to take away for this one is that as a leader trying to start a movement, you must nurture your first few followers as equals.

12. Vishen Lakhiani: World’s Greatest Workplace

Here, Vishen Lakhiani outlines 5 ways to build the world’s greatest workplace. Happiness, a noble mission, quests, personal growth and tribal dynamics. He shows how he has applied these principles to his own company.

13. Nilofer Merchant: Got a meeting? Take a walk

“There’s an amazing thing about getting out of the box that leads to out of the box thinking… Fresh air leads to fresh ideas.” The idea in this quick talk from Nilofer Merchant is simple, have more walking meetings!

14. Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team

In this talk, Tom Wujec uses the well known ‘marshmallow problem’ to show how successful teams need a wide range of skills and personalities.

I hope you found these talks interesting and inspiring. Which ones do you think are the best? Have I missed any great TED talks that can be related to company culture? Please feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me @LiamNolan90.

Photo courtesy of TED.