Generally speaking, companies are created to drive profit. There are obvious exceptions, but a healthy return on investment is what stakeholders and leadership teams are looking for from employees. However, there is a disconnect among some companies who do not attribute an engaged company culture with the bottom line. This is a mistake.
A disengaged leadership team trickles down to the rest of the employees and creates a negative effect that is difficult to overcome. If the answer to a more productive, more profitable company is to create a better culture, why do so many companies continue to struggle?
Unfortunately, they are not mindful of the problem or are unwilling to address it. It’s not easy to tell anyone, especially those at the leadership level, that they are lacking. There are ways to communicate this, of course, where it is a positive, successful experience for all. The first step is for company leaders to take charge of developing and perpetuating an aligned leadership mindset. To achieve this, there are six principles to understand.
#1: Test Readiness
Leaders are made, not born. There are people who present leadership skills early on but what makes a good leader is someone who is willing to develop them, to put in the work, and grow. Ask your leadership team what can help make the company more successful. If they feel like they don’t have anything to improve upon or are not ready to receive feedback and apply it, they are not ready to be leaders, plain and simple. No set number of years of experience or knowledge of a subject can instantaneously put someone in the position to excel as a leader.
#2: Lead By Example
There’s a saying that goes, “Do as I say, not as I do,” which many organizational leaders seem to follow and expect their teams will follow suit. If leaders are disengaged, employees will be as well. If leaders are not held accountable, it’s difficult to hold employees to a different standard. A countless number of quotes from experts, educators, and even pop culture solidify the fact that “attitude reflects leadership.” There must be a commitment to self-improvement that doesn’t stop when no one is looking.
#3: Define the Win
Many will say it, more will think it: what’s in it for me? When you focus on developing a strong leadership team by investing in the skills and training they need to succeed, make sure to tie it to desired results. Their part in the process is powerful, but they must understand what that “win” entails. Company leaders should feel a responsibility to the success of the company, themselves, and their teams. These successes must be broken down into measurable goals even if the true win is creating and maintaining an engaged company culture.
#4: Measure Ambition
Take a quick mental poll of your company’s leaders and answer honestly: Do they have ambition? Are they constantly growing to achieve the next step in their career, learn a new skill, or grow their team and the company? Or, does your leadership team fall more into the complacency category where busyness is their badge of honor to show how hard they work and how much they should be valued? Identify their potential and provide opportunities of growth within the organization.
#5: Embrace Feedback
As mentioned in the first principle, everyone in a company needs to be ready to embrace feedback, leaders most importantly. However, receiving feedback is one thing. What you do with that information is what cultivates change. Do your employees feel heard? Do they see change actively being made? As a leader, all eyes are on you, every day, all day. Listen to what people are telling you. Discuss the feedback with your leadership team and plan a course of action to resolve it, improve it, or highlight it a win.
#6: Celebrate Successes
Aligning a leadership mindset means getting to the root of problems and changing things from the ground up, so to speak. It can feel slow and tedious. It may be uncomfortable and tiring. That’s why it’s important to celebrate the wins along the way. What new processes have you put into place? What problems have you solved, big or small? Each milestone tracks the success of your efforts. Although this timeline won’t always be linear, as there are likely to be setbacks that pop up, keep pushing forward with the characteristics you want to see in your leaders: productive, positive, engaged, and inspired.
A job title is indicative of what your work responsibilities entail but a person can be a leader at any level. That is the mindset you want to create within your company if you want to succeed.