This article was reprinted with permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell’s free monthly e-newsletter ‘Leadership Wired’ available at

The environment has taken center stage recently in the American media. Going “green” has become trendy among everyone from Hollywood elites to suburbanites. Corporate America is experiencing pressure from environmentally savvy consumers who are flocking en masse to socially responsible companies. At a time when the USA is at war, an American, Al Gore, was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for his persistent advocacy of the environment. Whether the discussion involves global warming, renewable energy, or organic agriculture, seemingly everywhere environmental issues are at the forefront of debate.

Perhaps “environment” should be the word at the center of leadership conversations as well. Consciously or unconsciously, leaders cultivate the environment in their workplaces. Some are lush climates where leaders flourish and thrive, while others are toxic environments where leaders either leave or wither from the pollution. In upcoming issues, we’ll pose questions about the environment you’re creating as a leader. My goal is to help you nurture a winning environment in your organization.

The Growth Environment
Growth is the yardstick by which you can measure the well-being of your organization’s environment. A healthy climate is conducive to growth, and functions as an incubator where leaders are birthed and developed. The following qualities characterize a growth environment:

  1. Others are ahead of you. 
  2. Your focus is forward. 
  3. The atmosphere is affirming. 
  4. You are often outside of your comfort zone. 
  5. Failure is not your enemy. 
  6. Others are growing. 
  7. People desire change.
  8. Growth is modeled and expected. 
  9. To gauge your success in setting the climate of your organization, monitor your people to see whether or not they’re growing.

Questions That Create a Winning Environment

  1. “Do I understand what it takes to be a team?”
  2. “Are my expectations crystal clear?”
  3. “Do my people understand why what we do is important?”
  4. “Does my team define success with their customer?”
  5. “Am I holding people accountable for performance?”

Root Causes of Poor Performance

  1. Inadequate Training
  2. Lack of Capacity
  3. Bad Attitude

Leadership Responsibility

  1. Proper Equipping
  2. Picking the right people for the job
  3. Modeling confidence and optimism

Before blaming or disciplining their people, leaders should first scrutinize their performance of personal responsibilities.

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