One Thing Every Leader MUST Know to Build a High-Performance Culture

September 14, 2021

by Andrew Freedman

Imagine engineering a musical instrument without the help of a musician who plays that instrument. That would make zero sense, right?

You need their unique skills, perspective, and expertise to create an effective product.

And yet leaders make this mistake every day.


By failing to involve frontline workers when launching business transformation efforts, strategic initiatives, business process changes, or standards of excellence for specific roles.

Leaders have a bird’s eye view of the company.

But frontline employees have an eye for detail.

They have the most intimate knowledge of, and context for the actual work that needs to be done. Frontline employees are closer to customers than executives. Meaning they usually understand the actual customer experience, journey, and requirements better than leaders.

In fact, our research shows that it only takes 6 months for a person not performing a role to lose perspective on what it takes to perform that job at a high level with consistency. Imagine then what that means for executives who’ve been off the front lines for 5, 10, or more than 15 years!

By involving frontline employees, three things happen:

  1. Standards of excellence for a role will better reflect best practices and approaches for consistently achieving those standards.
  2. Business processes will better align with customer needs.
  3. Employee trust and confidence in leaders will increase.

People feel a sense of ownership when they have a voice.

Ownership allows employees to actively participate in, take ownership of, and endorse change.

They feel like things are happening for and with them, not to them.

Don’t engineer a saxophone without a saxophonist.

Don’t create solutions without your frontline employees. When you effectively collaborate across functions, your company can make beautiful music.

Adapted from Thrive: The Leader’s Guide to Building a High-Performance Culture


Andrew Freedman is a lifelong advocate for maximizing human potential and creating positive change. For over 25 years, he’s been a driving force in designing strategies that provide leaders a foundation to translate individual, team, and organizational talent into tangible business growth. As Managing Partner of SHIFT Consulting, he’s helped countless companies across diverse industries flourish by creating vibrant company cultures and new standards of excellence. He is the author of the best-selling book, THRIVE: The Leader’s Guide to Building a High-Performance Culture. Connect with Andrew via LinkedIn or by email.