3 Ways to develop a great Leadership Culture – The Hire


Reaching for a leadership culture

3 Ways to develop a great Leadership Culture

Last week we stepped out from attraction and recruitment to introduce a broader view of the employee lifecycle. This week we zoom-in to “LEAD ME” with a discussion on how your organization’s culture shapes formal and informal, leadership networks. Leaders influence behavior and performance from every position in your organization – for better and worse. So, you have a choice when you consider formal development; you can foster and support leadership at every level, or you can choose to focus only on training your managers (and fall further behind the curve.) Following are some ways to avoid that trap:

Involve employees in learning that blends with their day-to-day, not adds to it

We’ve all been there – sitting in a classroom with 23 other managers to learn about leadership. The class is well designed. The facilitator and speakers are fantastic. We leave more energized and with a broader set of tools to lead, and then… nothing.

The Buck stops here.

Training classes alone are not a magic bullet no matter how PHENOMENAL. Instruction does not change habits. In fact, according to Mckinsey & Company, adults typically retain only 10% of what they hear in the classroom (never mind what they miss when they are checking their phone.) So, if you are planning classes, workshops, or any other form of training, it is necessary to also implement simple and sustainable plans for reinforcement and practice. Encompass elements of skill and culture – what you want your people to do, why and how should they do it. Your goal is to help employees grow. Involve them to create and implement learning that blends with their day-to-day, not adds to it.

Pay attention to Culture and Strategy

As we said last week, every day you send signals about what is rewarded, tolerated, or punished in your organization. It is essential that those signals are in-line with stated expectations and consistent for everyone from entry-level to the CEO. Poor leadership does not just happen, your organization’s culture dictates how formal and informal leadership is established, maintained and perceived. Conversely, leaders perpetuate and drive the culture, setting the standard for the behaviors that will shape your results. So, if your leaders are not having a positive influence, your incredible strategy will be the best plan that never happened.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”Paul Drucker

The Buck stops here.

As you consider your culture, think about where you focus your energy. Companies that are performance-driven for example, can be psychologically challenging because employees feel they are either succeeding or failing, with little grey area. This makes a leader’s job that much harder. Consider instead adopting a growth mindset by creating an environment where you not only reward accomplishments but truly create an environment where failure is not the end but an opportunity “for learning and improving, individually and collectively.” – Tony Schwartz, Create a growth culture not a performance obsessed one. Harvard Business Review March -April issue, 2018.

Engage and Act

Talk to your employees and find out what they LIKE and don’t LIKE about working with you/your organization. Engagement, Culture, and Climate surveys are great alone or in combination – but consider more direct contact and anecdotal data collected through small group discussions, 1-on-1 meetings, and just walking around and talking to people (or skype in virtual environments.)

The ultimate purpose of collecting the data is to provide a basis for action or a recommendation.
W. Edwards Deming

Where many companies fall is in how they communicate and act on what they learn in surveys and informal feedback. Sometimes it’s a matter of delay, sometimes a fear of addressing the underlying issues. Regardless, not talking about the elephant won’t make it go away. So treat your employee data as you would customer data, and put it at the center of your people management strategy. – Lisa Burrell, Co-Creating the Employee Experience, Harvard Business Review March -April issue, 2018.

Thanks for joining us today, come back next week when we talk about the power of leaders developing leaders. Before you leave, we would like your help as we prepare for our October blog series – Scary Stories from the Employee Experience. Do you have a short story you want to share, anonymously of course, about a less than ideal employee experience as you were recruited, developed, managed, or even exited? Please send them to us at info@the-hire.com

Lisa Crockett is a leader and professional development coach with more than 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Organizational Effectiveness, Project Management, and Learning & Development. To learn more about her professional career visit her on LinkedIn.

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