Though it seems a clichéd notion, improving your company's bottom-line starts with the top. Your leadership style has to be one of leading by example. If you’re a leader who promotes a company culture of “do what I say, not what I do” your company probably won’t be a happy place for your employees. Comedian Lily Tomlin once said, “I’ve always wanted to be somebody, but I see now I should have been more specific.” Being the leader of a successful organization, with engaged employees and happy customers, is definitely being somebody specific.
So, how do you become the type of leader your employees want to work for and your customers want to do business with? It takes leadership skills and leadership development, a dash of self awareness, and a little luck bit of luck.
Research suggests that your employees will not go above and beyond the call of duty at work unless they see you “busting butt.” A recently published study in the Journal of Applied Psychology points out that the best way to encourage the behaviors you want from your employees or those you manage is to, in fact, lead by example - let them see you practicing the behaviors you want them to exhibit.
Being a leader creating a positive company culture is also part of your job description. Ethical, innovative, and transparent leadership helps create a culture that encourages employees to be at their best. It also encourages employees to be creative in ways that can boost your bottom-line and to be loyal when it comes to sticking around. But remember, if you want them to share views of the bottom-line, you have to create a company culture that offers them “a piece of the organizational pie.” Building a productive company “pie” can often be achieved through a culture of sharing, collaboration, connection and creativity. Additional “fillings and toppings” can be added to taste. Let’s review some basic ingredients.
Can you hear me now?
As you might expect, a positive culture is founded on more than just paid lunches, personalized parking spaces or gym memberships. According to Dr. Ralph G. Nichols, a pioneer in the study of listening, leadership skills and leadership development, “the most basic of all human needs is to understand and to be understood.” Clear, concise and transparent communications are aspects of successful leadership. Great leaders make great efforts to understand what is important to others. Listening to and talking with employees to find out what you both expect will help clarify expectations for your staff, and, in turn, will help you learn what motivates them. It also sends a message that collaboration and communication are important factors in the success of your organization.
This effort to understand opens the door to strong communication between leadership and your company’s biggest asset – your employees. This two-way flow of communication and information sharing will help build a culture of trust as well as a way to find out what motivates employees. Making yourself a successful leader is a first step to making your company successful.