Cultivating a Culture of Excellence

In a recent live event hosted by Nicole Donnelly of DMG Digital, featuring Craig Randall, Director of Enablement Services and Partner at NextVision Sales Institute, shared valuable insights on building a culture centered around people rather than profits. Craig's journey from college mascot to culture chief provides a unique perspective on authenticity and leadership. By the end of this article, you will learn key lessons and discover insights including:

  • Authentic leadership's positive impact on workplace culture.
  • The collaborative process behind defining core values and strategies for ensuring leaders consistently embody them.
  • Embracing feedback and diverse perspectives.
  • Uncover communication & engagement challenges, and how leaders can break down barriers for better collaboration and accountability.
  • Cultivating gratitude and recognition, creating driving motivation and excellence in the workplace.

Authentic Leadership Approach

Diverse business team at a conference table.

Craig Randall's leadership journey started unconventionally: as a college mascot. This experience taught him the power of influence for good, even while wearing a mask. Authenticity emerged as a central theme in Craig's approach to leadership and culture building. He emphasized the importance of being authentic both in the boardroom and in everyday interactions.

Craig challenges the traditional notion that leaders must project unwavering authority. Instead, he advocates for leaders to be genuine and embrace their limitations, creating an environment where others can do the same. The key, according to Craig, lies in recognizing one's strengths and weaknesses and building a team that complements those areas where an individual may fall short.

This approach extends to the hiring process, as Craig explains how showcasing an organization's core values and mission from the very first interview can attract the right talent. By being authentic about what the company expects and values, candidates who share those principles are more likely to join the team.

“That trust and safety lays the foundation for a strong culture, where people can be themselves. When leaders show vulnerability, it encourages others to do the same. We can all learn and grow together when we embrace shared vulnerability, creating something truly remarkable." - Nicole Donnelly 

The Importance of Core Values

Hand building core strategies with cubes.

At NextVision Sales Institute, the company came up with their core values through a collaborative process. The significance of having buy-in from their entire team was essential. This collective approach ensures that everyone feels ownership of the core values and is committed to living by them.

The challenge of remaining aligned with these core values as leaders is indeed a constant one. Leaders must lead by example, consistently embodying these values. However, it is essential to recognize the need for self-reflection and accountability to ensure that they are truly walking the talk.

Leaders, as Craig explained, must continually evaluate their actions and assess whether they are aligning with the core values of the organization. He shared his own experiences where team members approached him when they felt a core value was not being upheld, highlighting the importance of trust and open communication within the team.

Craig's story about having a team member serve as a 'muse' who offered a different perspective and prompted him to rethink his actions and decisions demonstrated the value of having individuals who challenge and inspire leaders to stay aligned with core values.

Ultimately, maintaining congruence with core values is an ongoing process, and leaders must be open to feedback, self-awareness, and continuous improvement to ensure that their actions mirror the values they hold dear.

Embracing a "Muse" 

As we delve into this topic, let's consider the value of having a "muse" – someone who challenges and inspires leaders to reflect on their actions and decisions. Craig shared a personal story in which this individual, providing a unique perspective, played a vital role in helping him become a better leader. This story underscores the importance of embracing feedback and being open to different viewpoints, even when they challenge our assumptions.

Open Communication and Engagement

Now, shifting focus to another crucial aspect, maintaining open communication and fostering a sense of safety within the workplace as an ongoing challenge. It involves recognizing the power dynamics that may exist between leaders and employees and emphasizes the necessity for leaders to create environments where team members feel secure in voicing their concerns.

The "Other Side of the Door"

Drawing from his wealth of previous experiences, Craig shared how he actively engages with various teams within the organization, effectively breaking down barriers between departments. This serves as a poignant reminder of the crucial role leaders play in intentionally connecting with their teams and fostering a culture rooted in respect and accountability.

Collaboration and Gratitude

Shot of mature woman giving presentation to her colleagues

Lastly, Craig touches on the importance of collaboration and gratitude. Collaboration holds immense significance in fostering unity within a team. The concept of "rowing the boat" underscores the value of recognizing and celebrating team members who actively contribute to the company's success. It’s also essential to stress the power of gratitude in the workplace, sharing personal anecdotes that highlight how genuine expressions of gratitude can have a positive impact on team members.

“In our company, we have an oar that symbolizes recognition and value. Getting this oar was open to anyone through a nomination process, and it became a powerful symbol of appreciation. Whether you're a CEO or part of a small team, finding ways to recognize and empower your employees creates a culture of excellence. It's about making everyone feel like they matter and their contributions are valued." - Craig Randall


Craig Randall's journey from mascot to culture chief provides valuable insights into the importance of authenticity, core values, open communication, and gratitude in building a positive workplace culture. These principles serve as essential tools for leaders aiming to establish environments that inspire, engage, and motivate their teams to excel. To connect with Craig Randall, feel free to reach out via his LinkedIn. If you’re ready to learn more about DMG Digital's initiatives, explore DMG Digital's services here

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