The Underutilized Competitive Advantage

Well, another Super Bowl is about to take place, and a familiar team is once again challenging to be the champion — the New England Patriots.

If you’re not a Patriots fan like most of the rest of the sports world, you probably envy but respect the success they’ve found over the past 20 years.

Unlike any other sports team, the model of consistency the Patriots have shown is the greatest in all of sports. The unique quality that separates the Patriots from other sports teams isn’t just winning —it’s how they’ve been able to win.

The average football player’s career lasts 3.3 years, which means the Patriots have had to recreate their roster practically every year. And with their winning results, many of their coaches are hired away to recreate the success in new organizations.

As an owner, can you imagine losing a key member of your executive team every other year and rotating personnel every three years? How would your company survive? Could you maintain your competitive edge? How do you continue to find success?

The Patriots have done it by establishing a healthy culture. The Patriots’ culture has proven to be so robust that superstars from other organizations are willing to take less in pay to be part of it, and players who under-performed on other teams come there to improve their skills and extend their careers.

It’s the one competitive advantage that other teams have been unable to replicate.

So how do you create a culture like the Patriots that can act as a competitive advantage? Here are a few tips:

Have A Clear Mission, Vision & Core Values

Every employee should have a clear understanding of the companies’ mission, vision and core values.

Your Mission: This is what your company does. It should be specific enough that people understand what you do and how it may differ from your competition.

Your Vision: This is what your company aspires to be. It should drive decisions and goals within your company.

Your Core Values: This shapes the culture of the organization. They should be reflective of the beliefs and principles in which the company acts to deliver its mission and achieve its vision.

Hire For Culture First

The economy is very healthy right now, and with that, the unemployment market is small. To add talent you either have to develop it internally, poach from other companies, or recruit from other markets.

In the hiring process it’s easy to focus on the skills and experience of the individual but what about fit? A culture first approach to recruitment & hiring will ensure that the right people are part of your organization. Having the proper support resources within the organization will allow you to develop deficiencies in any skill sets. When it comes to competing for talent, your culture should be your secret weapon.

Leaders Must Live The Values

One way to kill your culture fast as a leader is to preach it but not live it. The key to getting employees to buy-in is to lead by example. Leaders who live their core values and model the right behavior on a daily basis will establish an environment of trust and mutual accountability with its employees.

Practice Servanthood Leadership

Leaders who spend more time doing a task than supporting others in their work will struggle to establish a healthy culture. It’s important to be present but most important to listen, get constant feedback and find ways to adjust as necessary.  Empowering your employees to make good decisions, and allowing them to fail and try again will inspire creativity and innovation within your company.

In a crowded market where it can be tough to stand out, let culture be your differentiator. It gives you the competitive advantage you need to establish long term success.