Transforming to a High-Performance Culture


My perspectives on above subject as an Organizational Consultant and Executive Coach with over 30+ years in across diverse industries, including working in Europe and with 18+ years of being CHRO. I would like to begin by sharing the flow and structure to my perspective:

  • I would like to use a framework to explain how we can possible address the issue of Culture.
  • Share the role of HR as a Change agent.
  • Share at a 30000 feet level – the Why, the What and How you could do to transform and enable a High-Performance Culture.
  • Finally, a short summary that would help pull it together.

Let’s begin with an exercise by asking you to think back on a situation when you were asked to create a high-performance culture. What are the top 3 focus areas you addressed? I would pause now, for a couple of seconds as you kindly reflect on my question.

Allow me the indulgence of one slide on Theory although this quote states otherwise:

An ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory.” – Ernst F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered

In order to create change in an organization it is critical to enable change holistically in all the parts as also in the whole.  As HR practitioners we have to be able to diagnose and observe all the ‘patterns that show up’ and ensure we see the connections between the parts to the whole. We in HR have a critical role in how we can help support managers lead change. No organization can transform unless there is a wholesome approach – a holistic way in which we transform.

Allow me to introduce Ken Wilber’s – Four Quadrant Model. He built on earlier work of Clare Graves, Beck’s Spiral Dynamics and has been one of the critical thinkers in Developmental Psychology.

Ken Wilber, Founder of “Integral theory” uncovers a profound truth about the nature of reality:  Any phenomenon has four facets.  To understand the phenomenon, one should look at it objectively from the outside (the tangible, measurable, exterior dimension). In addition, one should observe the phenomenon from the inside as well, the intangible interior dimension of thoughts, feelings and sensations).  To this one should look at the event at one level of isolation (the individual dimension) as also in its broader context (the collective dimension). It is by looking at all the 4 lenses that one gets to see the integral grasp of reality.

Our role as cultural consultants is to diagnose and leverage changes to the areas mentioned in the blue font in italics. It is rightly said, if you change the experience, you can change the behavior. On my website I shared the comment by Max Planck, “if you change the way you look at things, the things that you look at Change”.

I argue, that culture is not a given, it is an outcome. Yes, a culture could be an inheritance, but we could transform it and leave behind a legacy we wish! Transforming Culture is not difficult: it needs all elements to come together.

For one, under Employee’s beliefs and mindsets, much of this lies in the unconscious. It requires an awakening, and an alternative Cognitive Behavior reordering. This requires a change in mindset, behavior as also Changes to Organizational Systems such as Work systems and Work Processes so that one gets the culture one deserves and which results in strong business performance. We all know that the maximum impact is when change leadership is best enabled to manage change capability, role modelling, commitment and consistency.  While the other levers are supportive, we need to recognize the real drivers of change are Sponsorship from the top.

Currently, each organization is perfectly designed – it gets what it deserves! It needs to address ‘being deserving’ (the inputs), rather than focus on the ‘getting’. The Bhagwad Gita may be quoted here – Focus on the efforts, the fruits will come.

One should never underestimate the unconscious processes at work and the Systems Orientation. This needs to be interrogated – what matters are given attention, inattention, what matters are heard, what is deafened out. What matters are made visible, what is pushed out of sight? What is graced, and what remains unacknowledged? One needs to make the invisible, visible, act the withheld, make the inarticulate, articulate and act the withheld. These are the real issues that need to be addressed, the patterns that show up, and for re-socialization and re-calibration, for meaning making, choice making, role taking and action taking. To bring change, both at the level of individual and at the level of system, must change be driven. As you actively work on all of these quadrants one can effectively change the ‘smell of the place’, as late Prof CK Prahlad describes culture.

To bring about transformation requires changes in a hardware and mind ware: this would involve focus on clarity around goals, expectations and performance standards including the leadership standards and behaviors we wished to promote. Hardware changes around spans and layers to bring about a more agile, empowered, swift decision making and accountability along with simplification in structure. Work on building muscle around new ways of working and enable speedy decision making. Finally, around providing disruptive resource allocation to create differentiated performance in the market place, where we can seize opportunities.

Transformational Leadership

However, the maximum impact is when change leadership is best enabled to manage change capability, role modelling, commitment and consistency. While the other levers are supportive, we need to recognize the real drivers of change.

Leaders need to be teachers. They must spend large amounts of time on leader assessment and coaching.  They should bring alive the leadership standards at work and through workshops and drive deep purpose workshops and lead change from the front. Line managers should invest in talent, support inclusion and diversity.  They should be called upon to reflect on their leadership style each day to support the leadership purpose. To help people live their Personal Purpose at Work. They should sponsor and lead program to recognize and reward values, drive annual value surveys feedback and pulse surveys to assess the organization journey towards becoming a Great Place to Work. Senior leaders in India on particular must lead the diversity and inclusion agenda. Finally employees should be engaged to participate in the high performance culture and these people projects should be lead by senior leaders.


In summary, a holistic approach is needed on the journey of building a high performance culture that is grounded in purpose which has a clear and aligned organization’s vision and is cascaded to all.  I believe we must have a differentiated operating model and structure designed at customer value in the center, where leaders role model and lead the way where people processes and policies empower and endure, where a culture, where all can co create through the power of diversity being inclusive and building a winning culture! I believe with a dominant logic, strong values and influencing all work process and management systems and policies we create the culture that will enable the Performance and Business Results.

Author- Steve Correa, Founder & CEO – Steve Correa & Associates. He is a professionally certified Executive Coach with over 30 years plus corporate experience in Human Resources across diverse industries and has worked as Chief Human Resources Officer at Diageo, Jio, Patni, Vodafone and Hutch.  http;//


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