Based on a Forbes article by William Craig from Oct 9th 2018.
Creating a positive and effective company culture is essential to workplace efficiency and effectiveness. You would’ve felt it yourself – when people are happy, they work harder, and they work smarter.
As entrepreneurs, we are leaders and champions for our company. We spearhead and carry the company on our shoulders as we work to turn our dreams into reality. Some things that you may have taken away from our recent H.E.R Asia Summit are the tales of hardship and tenacity from the many CEOs and Founders of successful local businesses.
Today, we break it down to 10 ways we as leaders would influence company culture and what we should look out for.
1. Leaders Observe
‘Listen much, speak little’. You have great ideas, but you’re not omnipotent. Listening to those around you is the hallmark of a great leader – someone who understands that an opinion that’s not the same as yours exist, and it helps to listen and gain some perspective. Leaders understand that listening to your employees, taking in the details of their work, experiences, behaviour, and morale helps with mapping out potential opportunities and catching the little problems before they get too serious.
2. Leaders Balance Subculture With Organizational Unity
Personnel drama is inevitable – we’re all human beings after all. We have opinions, likes, and dislikes. Leaders are able to balance workplace camaraderie with professionalism. You’ll see it when employees have formed ‘cliques’, and too much of this would affect workplace productivity, similarly when your employees aren’t getting along.
3. Leaders Don’t Get Hung Up On Titles
Good leaders don’t care that the titles on their namecards don’t have the word ‘Executive’, ‘Chief’, or ‘President’. Leaders understand that ultimately, it’s the unity of the company, and while hierarchy is an important organizational accountability structure, don’t let title chasing and egos get in the way of doing good work.
4. Leaders Aren’t Necessarily Appointed
Sometimes, the true leaders aren’t the ones with ‘Manager’ in their titles. They’re the ones that other employees look to when they’re unsure of what to do. There are many styles to leadership, and no two leaders are the same. Steve Jobs was notorious for being a strict and unsympathetic leader, however, he was also the heart and soul behind the entire Apple brand, and even if you didn’t like him, you followed him where ever he took the company. On the other hand, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh was known to be an empathetic leader – down to earth, and genuinely sincere.
Look out for these people, the kind that your employees naturally look to when things go wrong. Nurture and train them, and improve efficiency within your workplace.
5. Leaders Are Active In The Community
Nobody wants to follow an uninformed leader. Somebody who doesn’t care enough about the world around them outside of work. Leaders are more likely to inspire their employees when employees know that their leaders have opinions about their local elections, recent developments, and societal issues.
6. Leaders Help Employees Fully Understand Their Roles
One of the first things they teach you in business school is to have a clear vision and mission for your company. While you don’t learn much from business school aside from that, this is something that’s been proven in real life, time and time again.
Sometimes the day to day activities of your employees is disconnected from the core objective of the company – why is your salesman running deliveries? Why do we have to care about value-added services when we could just simply do our jobs?
Good leaders help connect the dots between drudgery and the work that helps drives the company towards its goals and vision. Every employee in NASA would tell you the same thing when you ask about their jobs – they’re here to take humanity into space. The janitors will say the same as the technical director. They do the things they do everyday, so that we can take humanity into space.
What do your employees say when someone asks about what they do?
7. Leaders Nurture Their Employees
Learning is a lifelong endeavour. We never stop learning, and a good leader pushes for their employees to learn and develop new/existing skills. It not only allows for employees to potentially develop skills that they could, in turn, help the company aside from their existing jobs, but also regular training and development is key to maintaining an inspired and positive workforce.
8. Leaders Reinforce Responsibility And Accountability
When your child spills their drink on the floor, whose fault is it? Is it mom, for forgetting to give him the sippy cup and instead gave him the one without the cover? Or is it the boy, for being clumsy?
Ultimately, somebody is held accountable, and we fix, learn, and move on from the incident. When a customer has a bad experience at your establishment, is it the server’s fault for the hair in the food? Or was the chef for being negligent with food safety procedures? Maybe it’s the manager, for not enforcing these procedures religiously, as they should.
Good leaders reinforce personal responsibility, and inspires employees to take accountability for their actions. They should not be afraid of owning up to their mistakes as long as the issue is fixed and we learn from it.
9. Leaders Look Beyond Productivity
The whole point of a leader is to have someone who carries and embodies the vision of the company. If you don’t even believe in the company vision, why should someone else?
Encouraging employees to look beyond their day to day jobs, and to really visualize how their efforts are pushing the company forward n the big picture is key to good leadership and an effective workplace. Having happy, motivated employees will dramatically lift your company productivity, more so than just being a money-grinding operation.
10. Leaders Speak To Their Employees Like Human Beings
Simply, don’t be a bad person.
Nobody likes being belittled or being yelled at. Your employees are people too, with hopes, dreams, and lives. You are not entitled to their entire life and self-esteem. Good leaders respect their employees, and understand the use of positive language. They employ constructive criticisms and are emotionally available to communicate with their employees.
There is no one definitive way to be a good leader. Every leader is different, and that’s what makes us human. We don’t all share the same experiences, which is why we all operate on our own unique beats.
Being an entrepreneur, even moreso a woman in Asia, it can be daunting, trying to navigate being too aggressive and being a complete pushover. Additionally, some of us are mothers and caregivers with responsibilities that are expected of us. But of course, we, too, have ideas and our own goals and visions.
Having a community to help support and grow is essential.
After all, it takes a village.