An organization’s values are sometimes just words on the wall, and this is true more than you might think. According to recent Gallup research, only 23% of employees feel they can apply their companies’ values to their work every day. Even more troubling is that just 27% strongly believe in their organizations’ values. Understandably, this leaves a large population of an organization’s workforce feeling confused about the company’s beliefs and culture. This disparity can give way to toxicity that overrides policies, behaviors, and desires — all to the detriment of organizational performance and employee engagement.
Organizational culture is normalized behaviors performed continuously over time. Culture describes “the way things work around here.” It’s the explicit and implicit shared assumptions and beliefs that individuals, teams, and organizations perceive, feel, or see that influence individual, day-to-day accepted behavior. Said another way, it’s the organizational script, the collective programming, and the internal operating system that fuels behaviors and decision-making.
This collective programming impacts organizational trust. LifeWorks’ 2022 Mental Health Index found that nearly one in five workers reported a decline in trust with their employers since the start of the pandemic — not the best situation for motivating a team. Yet, this lack of trust often originates from leaders undervaluing their employees. Few leaders seek team input, which can cause employees to disengage and suppress innovation. On the other hand, when team members share organizational trust, the culture is empowering.
Anyone in a leadership position can set the tone for the organization’s or their team’s culture. As a leader, you know that leadership is about influencing people, rallying the troops around a goal, and gaining commitment companywide. Your actions create shared assumptions and beliefs about what is accepted or not accepted, which influences how goals are achieved or not. Hence, it’s imperative to get feedback from those around you about your behaviors and how those create a culture that contributes to your organization’s competitive advantage.
Just as the cultural tone starts at the top, so, too, does change. Individual and team executive leadership coaching builds a learning culture in the organization as something indispensable and valued. It becomes part of your executive team and thereby moves its way throughout operations as leaders at all levels become coaches to their peers and other team members. Ultimately, leadership coaching positively affects how employees view the organization and boosts engagement, productivity, and retention.
Using Enterprise Leadership Competencies to Encourage a Healthier Culture
People often behave the way they do because of the way they feel. It’s as simple as that. It’s also quite telling of the employee experience, which is shaped by the organizational culture. While most organizations measure engagement levels and compare them to specific benchmarks, very few use their findings to build practices that reduce the barriers to engagement. Fewer still use those results to drive change and create the positive behaviors that develop a culture of performance.
Using the following competencies will create positive behavior and a healthier culture at all levels of the organization:
1. Executive Presence
As an executive, you have both task-oriented and relationship-oriented aspects of your role. Along with striking this balance between “hard” and “soft,” you must also normalize the behaviors that create the ideal conditions for organizational performance.
A large part of leading effectively requires modeling behaviors for others in the organization, either directly or indirectly. This could include individual leadership coaching and then passing your findings on to the rest of the team. It could also mean exchanging feedback on behaviors with your peers and colleagues, which would then help reinforce norms throughout the company.
Everyone in the organization must see and understand where you are headed in order to contribute to the company as a whole. One of the most valuable enterprise leadership competencies is the ability to work through others to improve organizational performance and achieve the organization’s vision. This often starts with crafting a vision that is strategically important to achieve, aligning your resources, and tying each team to that vision.
Effective leadership lets functional managers connect their teams’ responsibilities to the goals that support the vision. Everyone in the organization must see and understand where you are headed in order to contribute to the company as a whole. They must also comprehend how their work fits into your vision for the organization to achieve increased ROI.
It’s no secret that consistent communication is essential. However, relaying information is rarely enough. Look for ways to encourage two-way conversations within the organization, as they can promote higher levels of engagement. Empower team members to ask questions, offer their input, share their opinions, and be part of the conversation. Team member input increases creativity and a sense of organizational engagement.
4. Developing Others
Putting the right people in the right roles is a great start. Proper hiring serves as a solid foundation for operations. The same is true for identifying leadership potential. However, employees still require development to better utilize their strengths.
You can make the most of your leadership position by building on the talents and skills that employees bring to your organization. Leverage their strengths across a variety of tasks. Consider bringing together people from different parts of the company to work together for a day, giving them a chance to innovate and create something entirely new. If you focus and build on people’s strengths, they will be more engaged.
Creating a leadership culture centered on coaching and collaborative learning builds an organization that is agile, transformative, and well-educated. It also helps align team members to common goals while investing in their career development.
A strong organizational culture is a competitive advantage. Most importantly, it affects the employee experience, which drives retention, creativity, and discretionary effort. Altogether, these efforts directly affect the bottom line in growth, profits, and return on investment.
Yet, these positive changes can’t begin without you. As a leader, it’s important to embrace learning opportunities, such as executive leadership coaching, and be willing to develop yourself, your team, and your entire organization.
Interested in learning more? Contact our team. We’d be happy to provide additional information or discuss our leadership coaching and organizational culture solutions with you.
Dr. Andrew Rahaman is the co-founder of bluSPARC™ a learning and development company with coaching at its core. Drawing on extensive experience in curriculum design for executive education, Andrew is a trusted advisor and coach in talent management, leader development, and executive coaching both domestically and internationally. He works with clients to develop leadership capacity, high-performance teams, and provides tools and processes that enable organizations to meet their strategic initiatives and maximize growth opportunities. Andrew holds a doctorate from The George Washington University and is a contributor to Forbes Business Council. Andrew can be contacted at email@example.com.