Why Culture and Values Matter Most in Leadership
What does leadership have to do with culture and values? Culture and Values in the workplace matter more to U.S. workers than all other categories including pay and compensation. The same is true for France, the UK, Canada, and Germany.
What enables culture and values? Consider the second most important factor – Senior Leadership. If you are not investing in training for your leadership team, culture and values will be lower in ranking and turnover will be higher in percentage. I have learned this lesson from all perspectives, from being the newest member of the team to owning a multimillion-dollar business.
Culture and values are enabled from the top down and owned from the bottom up. Said another way, the most effective leaders enable high culture and model high values, but each teammate must genuinely feel ownership and make positive contributions to the culture.
Components of Culture and Values
Components of a thriving culture include:
- Everyone having a voice.
- A sense of meaningful contribution to the company’s mission.
- Recognition as a subject matter expert.
- A genuine concern for the well-being and success of all teammates.
There are many more components of a thriving culture depending on the mission of the organization…
Enabling Your Team
Culture can ebb and flow which is fine, as long as we are talking about varying degrees of good culture. Enabling your team to develop and contribute to a positive culture is a key component. The more ownership teammates represent in the culture of an organization, the better the culture will be.
One approach I use, within my organization of 35 teammates, is to ask each of them what a positive culture looks like and what we can do to enable it. Within my annual strategic vision mission, vision, and values document is a section dedicated to culture. This section is largely written by anyone on my team that wants to have input.
The cultural items that are written by my team include:
- Build community through mentorship, leadership, and motivation.
- Promote and enable a mindset of physical fitness.
- Develop confidence and respect.
- Intentionally incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Create and recognize opportunities for professional and personal growth.
- Encourage creative thinking to advance individual and company objectives.
- Deliberately bring people together.
These components of a positive culture are revisited each year. Then throughout the year, we discuss culture at our group meetings and make adjustments as necessary. If my leadership team does not monitor culture, it can very quickly move in the wrong direction, especially with a team of younger and lesser experienced people. I personally revisit the items mentioned above at team gatherings.
Experience is Everything
Throughout my 26-year military career (and now after 11 years in the private sector), I have been on all sides of positive and negative culture. I will admit that as much as I have tried to contribute to a positive culture, I know that there were times where I negatively impacted the culture. This is because I was not conscious of the impact my words and actions had at the time.
We all should be in it for the long haul. By focusing on culture and values, the long haul will be longer, ROI will be notably higher, and teammate engagement will be personally and professionally more rewarding.