How Does Your Culture Sound?

When I was a college basketball coach I spent a lot of time on the road recruiting… visiting recruit’s high schools, getting to know their coaches, and watching hundreds, if not thousands, of practices.

As you can imagine I witnessed a lot of different coaching styles, experienced different environments, and saw a wide-ranging level of talent.

Regardless of the coaches, their style, the environment, and the talent level there was one thing that always got my juices flowing…

The sound of a good practice.

Were the coaches bringing positive energy, holding their guys accountable, teaching and not just yelling? Was there a genuine enthusiasm in the air where the players encouraged and pushed each other? Were they talking on defense? Were they calling each other by name and not calling each other a name? Was there a common language – a shared language – that was being used? Was there a sincere sense of excitement when someone did a little thing? Did they pick each other up or put each other down?

When a practice sounds a certain way, it looks a certain way and it feels a certain way.

You want to find out about a basketball team’s culture… go watch practice. That is the day-to-day grind, the process of repetition, the long hours together.

So, let me ask you this…

If I were to walk into your office today, unannounced, what would I say about your culture?

Think about that for a minute because it really is powerful.

What would the energy level be? How would the office sound? Are people dialed in and moving with a purpose? Is there contagious enthusiasm? Is there negative or positive talk going on and what type of body language would I see? Do people want to be there? Do they connect with each other or simply acknowledge each other?


Previously, I had the honor to sit down with John Sabatalo, President at Planes Companies, and interview him for The Athletics of Business podcast. To no surprise, John talked about that very thing – being able to get a feel for the vibe of their culture after spending a few minutes in the lobby.

There is a positive energy and engagement. If you are sitting there waiting for an appointment, people who are walking by not only notice you, but they ask if you have been helped. A little thing but a big thing.

Why? It shows they care.

That care comes from the top and how John and his leadership team drive the culture of T.E.A.M.

Trust (Respect), Empowerment, Accountability, Mesh.

The leaders at Planes realize that everybody is different so not everyone can be coached the same way. John, once an extremely successful college and high school football coach in Cincinnati, firmly believes that in the business world, like in athletics, people want to know #1 that you care. You really care about them as a person. You know who they are, you know they have family, you know the trials and tribulations that they may be going through. Everybody has a story behind them. Behind that closed door. There’s a story behind every person and it’s so important for us to respect that as a coach (they don’t use the term manager).

What You Would See at Planes:

Two things John is intentional about every day are being visible and communicating…”when you’re visible in your company, to your people, what it means to say good morning, ask them about their day, ask them about their children – that is their dinner talk when they go home to their families.”

If you were to walk into one of their huddle meetings you will hear leaders give the “shout-outs” and call out the successes that have taken place and give people recognition in front of their peers.

All of this has added up to Planes Companies being named among the Best Places to Work in Cincinnati six years running.

Listen to the entire podcast episode and I encourage you to intentionally become more visible, available, and approachable to your team.

Keep doing great things,

This was originally published as a weekly newsletter from Ed Molitor, with The Molitor Group. If you’d like to receive the weekly newsletter, follow this link to subscribe.


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