Category Archives: #WorkCulture
Although integrity is a sought after business trait, it still eludes many leaders and organizations.
In 2019 the Global Ethics Summit sought to break new ground on business integrity. With more transparency and light shed on corruption, harassment, risk assessment and employee mental health, there is still a shortfall on meeting the basic standards for integrity in business as a whole.
Fortunately, that can change quite easily. If each leader could wholeheartedly adopt a few simple practices, and truly made this a part of their leadership DNA, without facade or pretense, we could quite possibly see a transformation in the workplace globally.
These steps of integrity may seem simplistic, but have a complexity of impact that cannot be duplicate apart from it.Tweet
Consider the impact these simple and powerful behaviors would have on your people, business associates and your organization:
Don’t Spread Negativity. In a fast-paced and competitive business climate, it’s quite normal to see people talk ill of others – colleagues, bosses, competitors and industry leaders. All in an effort to build ourselves up by tearing others down. we telegraph our weakness both individually and as a company. Instead, we should talk favorably about others, and work to differentiate ourselves in what we do best. It shows honesty to your customers, and shows others you respect their contributions in the company or industry,
Be Transparent. So-called conventional wisdom in business says not to admit mistakes, show weakness, or reveal a customer any concerns. This mentality inevitably leads to lying, cover-ups and blame-shifting. By taking accountability, and admitting errors, we can deepen others trust in our ability to lead and recover through good and challenging situations. Also, customers and employees are demanding more transparency in business, and leaders who embrace this through sharing information and being open book in all areas of their company will engender trust and longer retention of both your clients and team members.
Be Accountable and Set The Example. It’s not enough to walk the talk. Leaders need to talk the talk instead of passive aggressive suggestions, unclear expectations, and negative intent. What you tolerate in yourself as a leader is what your generate in your team behaviors. Also, making yourself accountable for your actions to peers and employees will help you stay aligned with what you profess to support in your cultural values. Examples and accountability go both ways, and as scary as it is to embrace this concept, it actually helps you to be a better and more purposeful leader.
Respect Everyone, Always. If everyone felt valued and respected in the workplace, lost time due to physical and mental illness would decrease, retention would increase, productivity would soar, and less errors would creep into the work. Employees and customers are pretty astute at sensing and knowing when someone isn’t truly respectful to them, so it makes zero sense to treat others disingenuously. People that feel truly respected and valued for their contribution and input will be more loyal to those leaders and companies.
Place Others Before Yourself. What if your customers and staff knew that you viewed them as the reason for your being in business, or being in the role that you’re in? That they are your purpose, not your means to an end? When a leader truly cares for their employees and their customers first, and not their pay, bonus or perks, they show a rare integrity level that is still not common. Just like Simon Sinek’s video about how good military leaders are trained to sacrifice self for others safety and security, business leaders can learn a lot about creating loyalty with integrity.
These steps of integrity may seem simplistic, but have a complexity of impact that cannot be duplicate apart from it.
If each leader could wholeheartedly adopt a few simple practices, and truly made integrity a part of their leadership DNA, without facade or pretense, we could quite possibly see a transformation in the workplace globally.Tweet
While our consumers and staff are looking for it, and our digital age is making our actions more transparent, one can make enormous strides in bringing change to the workplace in both the micro and macro environments.
Back in 2014 Simon Sinek gave a TED Talk about how good leaders make others feel safe.
Using a real life story from a military officer sacrificing his life to save others, and paralleling the parental duty of sacrificing for the nurturing of one’s children, Sinek outlined how these examples don’t reflect the current mindset of most business leaders.
And, unfortunately five years later, this still remains true.
Take as a prime example the fiasco at WeWork and SoftBank’s handling of the startup’s fall from grace.
In the last couple of months, the workshare company went from a potentially highly valued IPO to tumbling to a fraction of their value and being run by main investor SoftBank. They removed founder and CEO Adam Neumann who effectively ran the company into the ground and bought him out for a $1.7 billion golden parachute.
That was October. Last week, just about 4 weeks after, 2400 WeWork employees were notified that they were being laid off. As one would guess, many employees are outraged about Neumann getting off free while others have to suffer for his financial improprieties and erratic behavior.
This example shows the pervasive business mindset of sacrificing employees for the sake of a leader’s own self, or company stock price, or profits. All the things that Simon Sinek outlined in his talk that good leaders do NOT do.
This type of culture can only happen when a leader has good intentions for the people who trust them.
Sinek also told the story of a company back in the great recession of 2008 that was faced with a 30% loss of sales during 2008 and their labor needed to be cut by millions of dollars. When the board asked for layoffs, the CEO refused and instead gave every employee (including himself) 4 weeks of compulsory unpaid leave to be taken any time they chose over the year. He told the employees it was better for everyone to suffer a little, rather than a few suffer a lot. They saved $20 million, and morale greatly improved. As the leader instilled a sense of trust in the culture, some employees started trading leave – taking 5 so another would take only 3.
This type of culture can only happen when a leader has good intentions for the people who trust them. And people only trust their leaders when they know that their leader will take the risk themselves, and first.
When leaders do this, the natural response of people is to trust in return and to likewise sacrifice for the good of the leader’s vision. Because their leader would have done the same for them.
Great leaders find a way to sacrifice for their people, even if it hurts.
Gene was a new area manager and part of his new territory was to oversee the team at the largest revenue store in the company.
His first day was to tour each store for a few hours and introduce himself to the management and team members there. The store had great potential but the team was struggling and had new supervisors assigned in the last few weeks.
One of the key supervisors, Sherry, was on duty that day. As they were talking, Sherry who was very skeptical on the new management changes, asked Gene point-blank “So what changes are you going to make?”
Almost without thinking, Gene responded “Not sure, Sherry. What changes would you like to see?”
Instantly, Gene could see Sherry’s defenses drop. Her face became relived and her eyes opened with hope. She immediately and enthusiastically gave him her thoughts. Gene eagerly wrote it all down then proceeded to follow-up on her ideas over the next couple of weeks.
What Gene exhibited here was being others-aware in his servant leadership. He knew that while he had ideas and those whom he reported to had ideas, he needed to consult those closest to the customer and find the best solutions to allow all parties to be aligned.
But the most important thing Gene did, and quite consciously, is give Sherry a voice for her ideas. Many times, leaders in a new role or assignment will impose changes first to right the ship, then work on building the relationships afterwards. In this case, he made the team first by asking Sherry and each of her colleagues about their thoughts then immediately started to act on them.
Many times, leaders in a new role or assignment will impose changes first to right the ship then work on building the relationships afterwards.
By creating a priority of hearing, and acting, on the voice of their people, a leader can gain instant credibility of their team to ease the transition process of their new role and better align everyone by building trust.
It’s a simple, effective and proven principle of servant leadership. Serving your people with their best interests will allow a leader to develop a strong sense of teamwork and rapport.
Once a leader does this, they also set the stage for consistent action along these lines as well. People will see through the leader who is receptive at first then changes color afterwards (kind of a bait-and-switch style of leadership) and that will decimate a leader’s effectiveness and reputation quickly.
A leader who is resolute in displaying and continuing a servant leadership style will start out with strong alignment, a high degree of trust and a more engaged team of performers that will enable them to attain better levels of achievement in the organization. It sets a delicate balance for the leader in which their true colors and agenda will be measured to the baseline they set. Servant leaders at their core will be able to measure up while others will struggle.
A leader who is resolute in displaying and continuing a servant leadership style will start out with strong alignment, a high degree of trust and a more engaged team of performersTweet
While I believe people can overcome a bad first impression, that first interaction with a new team can be an essential step towards success if handled with the correct mindset.
With Sherry’s help, Gene was able to guide the team to understand their opportunities for development which enabled them to meet their goals consistently for the coming years. He realized it was that team-first mentality that got the team committed to him to make the changes that were asked for. The store’s sales and sense of pride soon became the model for the organization as a result.
Handle your new role and/or new team with care. If done correctly the results can be tremendous in creating a company or department of deep trust and commitment.