book cover
“You have priorities, whether you name them or not. If you want to grow, you’d better name them and you’d better name the behaviours that support the priorities.”

Culture Code Book Review

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, by Daniel Coyle, 2018


In this book, Daniel Coyle explores what it is that makes culture such an important factor in the success of high-performing organisations and the common elements of healthy cultures. He explores both the private and public sectors, elite sport and business to uncover the transferrable elements of high-performing cultures.

So What? 

  • Strong cultures are built on relationships, group dynamics and interactions whereas as weak cultures focus too much on status and position within the group.
  • When members feel safe groups perform at a higher level. One of the key ingredients in making people feel safe is to ensure that members feel listened to. Active listening cues and demonstrating the leader’s fallibility build this connection.
  • Leaders who demonstrate their vulnerability and ask for help build stronger cultures.
  • A common sense of purpose aligns positive behaviours, but leaders must over communicate this and repeat these behaviours over and over again.

Now What?

High performing organisations and teams have the following components

1.  The foundations of a thriving group culture include the necessary skills to “build safety, share vulnerability” and “establish purpose”.

2. “Psychological safety and a sense of belonging are key to successful groups.

3. People working close to one another facilitates connection.

4. Vulnerability fuels cooperation.

5. Sharing vulnerability through repeated difficult activities leads to team coherence.

6. Thriving groups share a strong sense of purpose.

7. Leaders can foster consistent performance and high creativity.

Some people may think that the book can be a little bit cheesy at times. The case studies fit the thesis. But Coyle does build from a starting point of “culture as derived from the Latin cultus, which means care”.