“The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.” —Ken Robinson
Your organization has a culture; it may be a culture that has been deliberately developed or it may be one that has grown, unnoticed, from the behaviors of organizational leaders. This culture will either have a positive impact on employees, productivity, and innovation or, it will erode the very foundation that the organization needs to be successful. So, what is the quality of your culture?
One of the most obvious signs of a healthy culture is the willingness and ability of employees at every level of the organization to collaborate. This starts with you; as a leader, you must let employees see that you do not know everything and you need the knowledge and support of others. When they see your willingness to collaborate and your appreciation for the value that is created from collaborative efforts, they will be much more comfortable following your example.
Another clear sign of a healthy culture is a high level of engagement by employees in their work. Engagement is about active participation. This is not ‘just going through the motion’ participation, but truly invested in the task at hand participation. This type of engagement is developed by leaders who share their big picture passion with employees. These leaders help every employee understand the incredible value they add to every task they participate in. Then they allow employees to have control over their own work.
One often overlooked sign of a healthy culture is curiosity throughout the organization. Curiosity is what drives innovation. It keeps employees excited about their work and wanting to learn and do more. As a leader, you either encourage curiosity and outside-the-box thinking, or you stifle it with an ‘I don’t pay you to think’ attitude. Challenge employees to be curious, to experiment, and to explore new ideas. Curiosity benefits the employee, you as the leader, and the entire organization.
One of the biggest components of a healthy culture is the support of employees by management. Employees need to know you have their back and their best interest at heart. They need to know that they can trust you, and that you trust and respect them in return. An employee should never feel like they have been left to tread water alone. Make sure every employee knows that you are right there with them.
You are the Key
You are the key. You will either use your leadership to purposefully develop a positive culture, or you will turn a blind eye and it will take on a life of its own. Either way, it’s your leadership behaviors that will determine the quality of your culture. Set the example that fosters collaboration. Share the passion that inspires engagement. Challenge employees to be curios. And, make sure your employees know that you are there to support them. So, what is the quality of your culture?
© 2016 Elizabeth Stincelli
Liz Stincelli is passionate about recognizing and inspiring the leader in each of us. She is the Founder of Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage employees and improve organizational culture. Liz holds a Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational leadership.
Learn more about Liz by visiting her website, stincelliadvisors.com and connect with her on Twitter @infinitestin, Google+, and LinkedIn. You can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.