The Compass of success: be patient when building culture

Published 7 December 15


Purpose, ethos (values, you and the team), strategy and warrior (strength of character). These are the four tenets of successful leadership according to former SAS officer, now high performance specialist Floyd Woodrow who spoke at the DairyLeaders Forum. But it all starts with purpose… 

This, says Floyd, is because we all tend to do things we like, and avoid those we don’t. Having a clear purpose avoids ‘mission drift’ and ensures everyone is headed in the same direction. 

“I call it your ‘Super’ North Star,” he says. “Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you look up and it’s there. You can see it, it guides you and it reminds you of what you’re there to achieve. The truth is that the road to achieving goals is never straightforward. There are pitfalls, distractions and obstacles in the way, so keeping yourself and your team committed to a clear end goal is critical. Your super north star is a story which you can tell with passion and, more importantly, it will help your team be part of the story.” 

Then, he says, you need to decide how you do things. “What are your values and what defines your ethos? Knowing where you’re going is not enough.” This is where the functionality of the team fits in, says Floyd. 

“You start with trust and openness. A team that is working well has mutual respect and people within it aren’t afraid to challenge – or to compromise. I call it constructive conflict. Why conflict? If your employees are all rubbing along OK but aren’t challenging the status quo or each other with their views, then you’re not harnessing all their abilities for the benefit of your business. But it has to be constructive – so that starts with trust and openness and is enhanced by accountability where the team is willing to support and challenge one another because they are all aligned to the team results. 

“Once your team is functioning well, is contributing and members are driving each other on, then you come to strategy. This includes defining your problem, finding milestones along the routes, having contingencies in place, being patient, communicating your plan and building the right alliances.” 

Lastly, there’s the delivery. Floyd calls this ‘Warrior’ – the unflinching, unswerving commitment to seeing the strategy through. This requires leadership skills. But don’t confuse leadership with autocracy, he says. We lead through emotion and if you can lead without authority you will be a powerful leader. 

compass“Yes be decisive, but also be flexible, trustworthy and accountable. Select the people you need for each task by their attitude and ability. Visualise what success looks like and stay positive. Try to maintain a ratio of 3:1 – three positive things that have been achieved and one thing that can be done to improve the situation. 

“And above all, be patient. You are building a new culture from scratch.” 

Floyd Woodrow started life in the Parachute Regiment, then was one of the youngest soldiers ever to be selected for the UK's elite Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) at the age of 22. During his time in the military, Floyd studied law and psychology and wrote his first book 'Learning to Learn'. Since leaving the military, Floyd established a consultancy business assisting businesses to reach their full potential.