"It's my personal approach that creates the climate. It's my daily mood that makes the weather." -Haim Ginott
A leader has a demanding and complex role to navigate, ensuring success for the company itself, delivering results that count, and leading in a way that creates a positive, encouraging atmosphere for employees. A leader’s job does not stop at the door…
Unfortunately, there are leaders who are out of balance among these responsibilities, and skew more towards the focus of work production and profit at all costs at the expense of their team’s culture and satisfaction, or the collateral damage their organization may cause on their communities or the environment. Ultimately, this pattern of behavior in leaders will be costly to the company, as the days of employees staying at a company with a toxic leader and culture, and no conscience, are long gone. With the emphasis on positive company culture and pressure to be included on those “Great Places to Work” lists (locally and nationally), many employees are realizing they can find both job satisfaction and inspirational mentors in the same company, and make a difference in the world.
Millennials Are Driving a Shift in Leadership
You can thank millennials for this movement. They would rather work for a company that has a positive company culture, inspiring and engaging behavior from leaders, and is socially conscious and employee-supportive. They believe they have the power to decide where to work, not just get a job.
“The wave of socially conscious and empowered Millennials will be an influential force on corporate America and Wall Street over the next few decades as they seek to align their values with those who they buy from, work with, do business with, and invest with.” Barbara Gray, CFA
A New Generation of Leadership Behavior
This paradigm shift in corporate culture is due partially to the leaders themselves waking up and modeling behavior that inspires employees to emulate it in their own way. Companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google are known for having leaders at the helm who inspire and encourage innovation at every level. They care about their impact in the world. Their cultures thrive on invention and expansion. Imagine if this were the case at every organization
Jeffrey Pfeffer recently stated in his piece in Fortune Magazine that “if more leaders shared the objective of healing humanity, both physically and psychologically, and making decisions that incorporated well-being and not exclusively economics—something that all leaders could do, regardless of their level or sector or location—we would all be in much better shape.”
The Behavior of a Great Leader
Today’s leader must balance talent development and social justice with the company’s overall goals in order to send the company on a trajectory towards success. According to organizational psychologist and coach Dr. Martha Gottschalk, “Leaders or managers have the unique potential to serve as an energizing force within organizations today. With their position and collective experiences, they have the ability to influence not only what transpires within our work lives, but how we process those moments.”
So, what does this look like?
- A leader must engage employees by asking them for their best thinking on issues or possibilities. In turn, they will respond to this type of leadership behavior and naturally be inclined to do even more for the company than the basic requirements.
- A leader must communicate the rules of engagement and team member responsibilities to ensure open dialogue and the free exchange of ideas. This participatory approach will minimize the risks of innovation while maintaining progress and excitement in the workplace.
- A leader must demonstrate awareness that the human/cultural factor is the driving force behind organizational success. This is the awareness that leaders who seek to build individual and collective performance must have. Such a move is necessary for companies seeking a return on investment from the cost of hiring the best talent!
- A leader must consider the larger impact of the work being done on the employees’ well-being, the community within which it works, and the environment. These considerations, made overt, build the awareness of employees, model deeply held values, and inspire responsibility for one’s actions.
Now that we’ve had our say, what is your behavior as a leader doing to ensure the success of your employees and the work you oversee? Is your style making a lasting difference? Is your thinking larger than today’s metrics?