A Culture of Excellence

Monday, May. 5, 2014

As it has done following the Torino, Vancouver, and now Sochi Olympic Winter Games, the USSA’s senior staff conducted a post-Olympic leadership retreat to discuss and define the role of organizational culture in the future success of our team and the association.  Where past such retreats have focused on the USSA's Core Values from an internal perspective, this most recent retreat was designed to look at it from an external perspective, utilizing the help of world-expert Dr. Pippa Grange, a leading figure in building ethically-driven performance cultures in sports organizations, and who facilitated the day-and-a-half session.  The USSA’s Culture of Excellence - which reaches across all athletes, officials, coaches, clubs, and support personnel - is an outcome of the way we live, what we value, what we believe in, how we behave, and what we resist and reward.  Experience has shown that culture out-paces talent, technology, strategy, and even financial resources when it comes to long-term and sustainable performance within a team.  Culture drives effort, alignment and the pride and satisfaction that people derive from engaging with our teams and our association.


The organizational leaders of the USSA are the custodians of the USSA culture and brand, establishing that culture through standards and accountabilities, capabilities, communication, a clear and unified sense of purpose, ethical performance thinking, quality and character of relationships, and providing a means to establish a meaningful spirit of contribution.  The USSA's athletes are the ambassadors of the USSA culture and brand, in the way they carry themselves through their activities, communicate with fans and communities, define team spirit, and embody core values builds culture not only within the teams, but also throughout our sport, our community and our organization.


While internally our culture is very strong, defined by a clear Vision, Mission, Goals and Values, and it is executed against daily through clear standards, quality relationships, and ethical decision-making, externally our organization continues to show some opportunities for improvement.  Ultimately a strong performance culture should extend through our alumni athletes, the media, officials, former coaches, and the leadership at our local levels, as these individuals are oftentimes the curators of our organizational history and the nostalgia associated with our sport and brand, and who apply that experience to creating a meaningful emotional connection with our next generation.  A strong performance culture should also extend through our organization's connection with the general public, who today are the best marketers of our sport and brand.


Developing stronger cultural capital throughout our organization – further encompassing the USSA's members and clubs - means not only “doing the right thing” on the way to winning.  It also means strengthening the clarity and unity of our purpose across our organization by better relating what Best in the World intends at all levels of the organization.  It requires further expanding the spirit of contribution toward the success of our organization by recognizing and incorporating the excellent work of all stakeholders who contribute to our culture and performance.  And it necessitates improving the quality and character of relationships further into our community through leading by example, building trust in our desired culture more broadly across our organization, and expanding what we share – and how we share it - with our clubs and members.


Culture is socially learned, it’s about relationships, and it’s alive.  And therefore it’s something that we all can and should focus on constantly to collectively further the performance of our organization.

Luke Bodensteiner - EVP, Athletics

Preview the new U.S. Ski & Snowboard website.