Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 15, 2013

Tips for building a 'What's next!' culture

By Harley Luplow
Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — We have all enjoyed the feeling of accomplishing goals as part of a team.

If we are lucky, some of us find ourselves on championship-level teams where we are part of that perfect combination of talent. You know each other’s thoughts and attitudes, and you work as a unit highly energized and motivated to achieve your common goals. That’s a feeling leaders of organizations want to bottle and dispense when needed.

Leaders are charged with navigating their organization’s travels through life. This takes vision, planning and goal setting. It is the quality of, and the execution upon, an organization’s goals that determine its success or failure.

The responsibility of accomplishing an organization’s goals through specific actions very often falls to special teams brought together to achieve specific results. Wise leaders know that bringing together the right mix of skilled and compatible teammates will create a new energy within an organization that can help it achieve its goals and create a stronger company.

Leadership Development Coach Valia Glytsis challenges leaders to develop plans for change where the level of commitment to achieving goals is such that there is no “Plan B.” She says that it is this leap of faith to focus 100 percent on making a positive change that truly frees your team to pursue its higher purpose. This shared vision builds trust among teammates and generates what she terms anabolic energy: a healthy positive growth-oriented force.

Glytsis believes that typical organizations operate on 90 percent catabolic and 10 percent anabolic energy. Simply put, catabolic energy is a negative energy that over time is destructive to one’s self and a business; whereas anabolic energy is that positive force that propels one forward toward a desired result or goal that helps organizations and people self-actualize.

She says that the business culture determines which organizations operate in “the light” of attracting its people toward positive goals. Catabolic companies typically operate with a control mentality using negative motivators to encourage action toward goals. This focus on individual rather than team actions forecloses opportunities for companies to grow.

As I process Valia’s insights I realize that companies that tend to have a high degree of esprit de corps and associated success, also have a tendency to grow by making a series of positive steps lead by special ad hoc teams that tackle new opportunities created or revealed by their leaders.

So my takeaway is: for an organization to positively adapt to change and grow in a healthy and sustainable way, its leaders need to develop a talent for setting forth challenging goals for the highly capable teams they assemble to achieve them. In a nutshell, an organization should create an environment where anabolic energy is created to perpetuate positive momentum for the company.

Ask yourself if it is fun to work at your company. Does everyone look forward to coming to work, and is there a spirit of excitement in achieving the next objective? Or is there a high turnover rate and a focus on individual behavior rather than on shared visions and efforts? Do staff members look to blame specific people for the company’s problems?

Adeline Horner Neubert, a management coach specializing in developing successful teams, believes that in addition to the fundamentals of business objectives and goal setting, leaders must be conscious of promoting healthy team dynamics. To do this, she makes use of an assessment tool known as SCARF, an acronym for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. These qualities are the building blocks upon which individuals rely so they can participate at a high level as a successful team member.

A self-assessment tool to evaluate individual team characteristics can be found at This is a good way to have your team members understand what aspects of their personalities are most important to them in dealing with other team members. Mapping one another’s team chemistries can help build understanding between team members so tasks are performed and the goals of the organization are accomplished.

With a little conscious work on building healthy teams, leaders can get their staffs to the point where they are excited to achieve their goals and genuinely look forward to asking “What’s next?!”

Business consultant Harley Luplow of Harbor Springs earned a law degree from Indiana University and a master’s in business administration from Georgetown University. Luplow can be reached at 709-9000 or