The difference between cultures that drain the energy from an organization and cultures which feed the energy and spirit of an organization can be what sets apart great organizations from average organizations. What’s the difference between these two types of organizations? What becomes so radically different in the Esprit de Corps that creates such a drastic difference in the workplace? These differences lie in the culture of the team. The makeup of how work gets done, how interactions between people happen, and how leadership fosters or hinders the latter over the former. The key to remember is the leader sets the tone and the tempo for not only how cultures perform but how they behave as well.
Last month we discussed 3 cultural transformation behaviors that leaders can employ in their interactions to leave the team feeling energetic and motivated. This month we are going to look at 3 more behaviors that when combined with the first three will turn your organization into the type that the industry will begin to follow.
Learn People’s Names
Regardless of the size of the organization that you lead, learning the names of the people within your charge is foundational to creating an engaging culture that attracts people. Having a sense of belonging is a universal human characteristic that can be demonstrated by simply knowing and calling people by their names. Going a step further would be to learn their interests and passions and what sorts of things are important to them. Having conversations that allow people to talk about their passions and interests goes a long way in creating an engaging and motivating culture.
In the most simplistic terms, leadership can be distilled down to: building trust and leveraging influence. The ‘how’ to accomplish this is as variable as the stars in the sky, but one behavior that cannot be overlooked is the willingness to listen and hear what feedback the organization and team have for them. Having an ‘open door’ policy is a start, but if a leader wants to truly understand what is happening in the heart of their organization, it means going out and seeking the feedback as well. Asking tough and reflective questions about the organization and how to make it better. Being intentional about the priority and critical nature of the role of the leader as the ‘guardian of the culture’ and the influence they have on shaping it in their image; for better or worse.
Finding a reason to laugh or help the team find levity in a tough or tense situation can demonstrate to the organization that ‘in spite of what’s going on, there is always a silver lining’. The optimism to strive towards better days that are ahead of the tough times will keep the organization and team focused on the part they play, the contributions they make, the value they bring as a mechanism of moving the organization down the road toward those better days. Once those days are realized, celebrate with the organization and laugh some more. Finding the ‘fun’ in the workplace is a critical element in creating an infectious and motivating culture.
Be the Leader Your Team Deserves
The leader sets the tone. The rest of the organization and team will take their cues from the behaviors and tone set by the leader. As a result, it is imperative that the experiences and interactions that the leader has with their team are intentional and foster the kind of culture that is desired.
While none of these behaviors, by themselves, will create the desired culture that was described above, they are all mechanisms by which the leader can demonstrate the behaviors and norms that begin to lay the foundation for an engaging and motivating culture.
As a leader, are people walking away from interactions with you feeling upbeat and positive? Do they have a smile on their face? Do they feel appreciated? Are they comfortable bringing their problems and issues to you? Can they trust you? Can they count on you for infectious optimism and a vivid description of the better days that lay ahead?
The experiences and interactions you create will define the type of culture that ultimately results. For better or worse, it’s up to you to determine the kind of culture you want to have. The soul of your organization is at stake.