Roundup Blog: Culture Starts with the Leader

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been talking, posting and commenting about the importance of exceptional leadership in creating outstanding teams. Whether you’re into your football or not (I personally will be glad when all the fuss is over), what seems clear is that whilst a team might produce good or even great results on occasion, without an exceptional leader to support and challenge them, such results are rarely sustainable or repeatable.

I often ask clients, course participants and anyone else I meet, to tell me about the best and worst leaders they’ve worked for/with – and why that person is memorably good or bad. The best leaders always share similar attributes: they looked out for us, supported me, fought the team’s corner, worked hard to build team cohesion, took a personal interest in my development…

These attributes are what ultimately form the foundations of a team’s culture. When team members feel supported and challenged in the right proportions, when they feel trusted to work independently, take decisions and problem solve without close supervision, they are more likely to do their best work and take on the mantle to support their colleagues in the same way. Culture starts with the leader: Exceptional leaders create outstanding teams; teams create the culture.

Much has been written about culture over the years. Ultimately it comes down to ‘the way we do things around here’ and the way we do things around here happens as a direct result of the actions and behaviour of the leader.

For example:

  • What happens the first time someone goes above and beyond, displaying discretionary effort and helping the team out?

Whether they do that again, whether anyone else observes and copies, will depend on the action and reaction of the leade

  • What happens the first time someone displays delusions of having greater importance than the team as a whole (we can’t quite leave the football examples behind us, can we?)

The leader’s reaction and how they deal with this will have a direct impact, not only on the individual, but on the rest of the team, who will look on in anticipation and build ‘muscle memory’ for future reference

The leader has an unequivocal impact on the performance, trust, cohesion and functioning of the team, by what they do and don’t do.

Rather than ‘the way we do things around here’, it would be more accurate to say culture is ‘what is tolerated around here’.

We’ve been busy collecting our research, editing our notes and collating the most important insights into our latest white paper, entitled ‘The Outstanding End-to-End Employee Experience’. We’ve made this available for you to download free of charge. The White Paper is packed with information and tips for providing experiences that are memorable, energising and engaging for your people, whether it’s through your structured offering or by ensuring that their wellbeing remains top of the agenda at all times, irrespective of individual circumstances.

In addition to the white paper, we’re really keen to share what we’ve been learning with those truly strategic professionals who are involved in engaging and retaining colleagues, we’ve put together an audit specifically aimed at helping you measure how your organisation is currently doing. It helps you to look at all the way markers along the End-to-End Employee route, from the starting blocks to the checkered flag.

So, if you’d like the opportunity to fill out a confidential audit and/or read up on creating an Outstanding End-to-End Employee Experience, click here. You’ll find both documents there – click on either or both.