“Our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff, like great customer service or building a great long-term brand, or empowering passionate employees and customers will happen on its own.”
– Tony Hsieh CEO, Zappos
Recent news headlines have given us much to think about when it comes to what’s accepted within an organization’s culture. It begs the question: What would it be like if all workplace cultures were built on mutual respect and openness? And how do we make that happen?
Let’s start by understanding the importance of culture in business and then consider how leaders can be the catalysts for positive change in their specific organizations.
Culture: The “Immune System” Of The Workplace
There are myriads of ways that workplace culture impacts an organization’s short- and long-term success. In a recent article on Time.com, Arianna Huffington referred to corporate culture as a company’s “immune system.”
When a workplace culture is healthy, it values and celebrates each person’s contributions, so current employees want to stay and potential employees are eager to come on board. Conversely, an unhealthy culture will damage a company’s reputation and make employees more prone to the “illnesses” of human nature.
The more fit and strong the culture at your organization, the more easily employees can recognize the onset of these issues and take steps to remedy them.
What Makes A Healthy Workplace Culture?
Rather than focus on negatives, here are a few of the positive aspects that define a fit and thriving corporate culture. If they don’t necessarily describe your company right now, consider how you might incorporate them going forward, starting with your teams.
- Diversity – Do you find yourself (or those within your organization) saying, “That’s the way we’ve always done it”? No more! This is essential if you want to foster well-being and improve performance. Diversity enables new thoughts, ideas, and possibilities to emerge so that you’re continually thinking, looking, and moving forward.
- Transparency – In a culture of openness, you can spot issues and correct them before they create a crisis. Transparency makes it safe for people to admit their mistakes, learn from them, and use those lessons to benefit the organization. Be honest – could your organization benefit from greater levels of transparency?
- A Larger Purpose – Millennials, in particular, thrive in a culture where principles are as important as profits. But doesn’t everyone want to feel they’re part of something beneficial -not only for customers but for the world as a whole? Where does your organization stand on this?
Your Role As A Leader: Build Inclusiveness
If a healthy corporate culture could be summed up in one word, it’s “inclusiveness.” An Inc.com article states that inclusive workplace cultures are healthier, more productive, and make team members feel more valued.
However, leaders can’t always gauge their efforts at inclusiveness, according to a ten-year study by leadership consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman. So here are some key benchmarks to help you be a more inclusive leader and create a healthier corporate culture:
- Try to ignore your ego. – It’s human nature to think of ourselves first, but our role as leaders is to keep the focus on success for our team and for our organization as a whole. When you make this shift toward intellectual humility, you almost automatically create inclusiveness.
- Remember the value of listening. – As a leader, there’s a time to talk. But often, the way to reach the best ideas and solutions is to listen, and you create inclusiveness when you do. This doesn’t mean you have to use every suggestion, but you should always be willing to at least hear them.
- Encourage collaboration on your teams. – When your team members contribute to a project or solve an issue, they gain a great sense of motivation and accomplishment. Bill Gates said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” And empowerment often starts with collaboration.
Every person deserves to work in a culture where they are valued, supported, empowered, and encouraged to be all they can be. As leaders, we play a major role in creating this safe and nurturing environment not only for the benefit of our employees but for the success of our companies in the long term. Are you ready for the challenge?
Looking for ways to be a bold leader who is a catalyst for creating a healthier, more inclusive culture within your organization? Sign up here to access my free Weekly Bold Move.
Colleen Slaughter Raue, Managing Partner of Authentic Leadership International
Colleen is a transformational leadership coach who guides international leaders as they attain the clarity, courage and self-confidence necessary to realize higher levels of productivity and fulfillment in both their personal and professional lives.
Her purpose is to facilitate her clients’ transformation from limiting beliefs and self-doubts into a deeper, more powerful knowingness of how much they – and what they envision for themselves – truly matter.
Colleen’s perspectives were recently featured in an article on the International Coach Federation’s website here.