How Culture Impacts Outcomes

Culture is one of the biggest predictors of success that there is.

Why is that?

Because Culture defines who we are, how we will react in different situations; especially those that put us under pressure, as pressure nearly always makes us revert to type.

Nowhere do we see as clearly the impact of Culture than in sport. I remember a game from a few years ago that is a great example, which I thought I would share for discussion, and illustration.

This was a game between Reading and Arsenal in the League Cup.

Reading had not won a league game that season by this point.  They had played Arsenal 10 times, in recent years, and had lost all ten games.

Arsenal, although a top team, had selected a what would be considered a weak team, with only 4 first team starters selected for the game.

The game started brilliantly for Reading and after just 37 minutes Reading were leading by four goals to nil.

This was an unbelievable score, one that Reading could never have imagined.

Reading played fantastically and took their chances well, at this point many Arsenal fans were dreading the worst and were looking at a heavy defeat.

One minute before the end of the first half Arsenal scored a consolation goal and now they were now going into the break 4-1 down, with little or no chance of winning.

But this is when culture kicked in.

Reading did not have a winning culture, a track record of success, and this really came across strongly when I saw the interview with the Reading, as the half ended, and he was about to go and give his team the team talk and motivation for the second half.

What he said shocked me, when he said: “at 4-1 I felt worried”.

In 10 attempts Reading had never beaten Arsenal, and yet with a commanding lead, he felt worried. His team had just played probably their greatest 45 minutes of football and yet he was worried.

When you watch the interview just look at the body language of the manager.

The Reading manager had a complete lack of belief that his team could win, his lack of Winning Culture created doubt in his mind, where there should have been none 4-0 is a great lead, and when the score became 4-1 you could see that he was visibly worried.

How does a manager conduct a team talk, when he has no belief in them, no belief that they can win. How does he stop them from seeing that, feeling that, and then starting to doubt themselves.

Reading had a Losing Culture, and now this was starting to come out.

Mid way through second half, Arsenal scored again to make the score 4-2,and thats the way it remained until the final few minutes.

But with just 2 minutes to go, and Reading still leading 4-2, Arsenal scored twice more, to make the scores level at 4-4.

From here the game went into Extra time, where ultimately Arsenal won the game 5-7 having come back from 4-0 down.

Arsenal had faith in their ability to come back, they do have a more of a Winning Culture.

But the bigger impact came from Reading, where they lacked Winning Culture, where even though they were in a commanding position they lacked the self belief, created doubt, and ultimately lost the game.

When you have a Winning Culture, you expect to win and will continue until the very last minute, expecting that you will find a way to win, to score the goals needed.

When you don’t have a Winning Culture, and probably have a Losing Culture, you will not expect to win, you will expect something to happen that will take the game away from you, and when you finally go behind you will give up, as you never expected to win.

This is why its important to create a Winning Culture, to get people use to winning, to expect to win, because it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you like to learn more about creating a winning culture lets set up a time to talk.