peter cox

Peter Cox recalls entering into sales and marketing with his wife Debbie in 1988. He says that despite starting from humble beginnings with only $11 in the bank, he saw his efforts contribute toward the expansion of a global business. When small and medium-sized enterprise owners began asking Cox to help them replicate what he was accomplishing with his team, he decided to start Leadership Dynamics in 2004, becoming a leadership coach and speaker for business owners and professional sports teams. According to Cox, he has spoken to millions around the world about high-performance leadership development over the past 30 years.

The founder credits his mentor for instilling in him the importance of internally developing people to drive organic growth. However, Cox also recognizes the need to foster the kind of culture where that level of performance can take place. He attributes his success to consistently applying key principles to grow the leadership potential of his people and aims to transform individuals, teams and businesses by showing them how to do the same.

“You need to grow a business where top-performing people love to work—where they’re thriving, highly engaged, unified and loyal,” Cox says. “Your people need to be accountable and respectful to one another and be counted on to drive and achieve the vision like it was their own.”

To achieve this, Cox recommends what he calls the “Upside-Down Pyramid” of building a high-performance culture. This concept lays out the foundational steps to cultivating a high-performance culture, with the first emphasizing the heart and spirit of your team. This initial focus sets up the groundwork for trust to flourish. Once people trust their leader and team members, they can gain mental toughness, which is the ability to maintain a constructive mindset under pressure. All these steps culminate in positive actions and a team that is motivated to perform well and continuously improve—the hallmark of a thriving high-performance culture and business.

Cox has found that the most effective way of approaching the first step of building the heart and spirit of your people is spending one-on-one time with them as a mentor.

“I truly believe all leaders need to be effective at mentoring and leading their key people one-on-one because it’s like rocket fuel for business growth,” the founder says. He takes inspiration from the following quote, sometimes attributed to Theodore Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.””

“I’ve always found this to ring true. Your people won’t invest in you or your business if you treat them like an expendable resource,” Cox says. But the opposite happens when you take the time to invest in them and their development. Just think about it from personal experience, he adds. Consider whom you would respect and give more of yourself to—those who genuinely show how much they value and care for you or those who make you feel as if they wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t around.

Cox recommends spending dedicated one-on-one time with your team, starting with your top 20%. By doing so, you can demonstrate that you genuinely care about them, their concerns and how you can support their professional growth. He believes these interactions not only foster their emotional well-being but also help unveil important insights, such as issues at home or work that might affect their performance. Gaining this knowledge equips you to lead more effectively, like understanding and accommodating a team member who occasionally has to be late due to family commitments.

The founder also sees these personal meetings as a platform to express appreciation, significantly boosting morale and commitment far more than emails or text messages. According to research from Gallup in 2023, 23% of employees strongly agree they receive the right amount of recognition for their work. The research further indicates that those who do are four times more likely to be engaged.

A 2022 study on the impact of virtual coaching during the COVID-19 pandemic found that surveyed respondents who received coaching reported higher social connection, optimism, life satisfaction, authenticity, productivity and engagement in comparison to those who did not receive coaching. This suggests that mentoring in the workplace could also have similar benefits.

MentorcliQ data from 2022 shows that 84% of U.S. Fortune 500 companies have publicly mentioned having mentoring programs, which signals that it’s a widely adopted way of growing the skills and abilities of team members, retaining their best performers and improving business performance. These firms also tend to rank higher on the list, which suggests a possible correlation between mentoring programs and higher revenue and better profitability.

As an avid proponent of one-on-one mentoring, Cox believes it improves relationships at work, particularly between mentors and mentees, and helps with growing a high-performance culture. “It gives you the heads up on any team or business undercurrents that you might not ordinarily find out about that you can then fix or improve,” he adds. “It gives leaders greater confidence in delegation and succession planning. One-on-one mentoring is truly a game changer for your business on so many levels.”

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