Inspiring Leaders Create Collaborative CulturesArticle by Maynard Brusman, May 24, 2019
Leaders Build Unity
Organizations run by leaders with traditional management mindsets lag behind their forward-thinking competitors in many areas: turnover, morale, productivity, market share, financial stability and profitability. The impact reaches far beyond the workplace and has a boomerang effect.
Unhappy employees bring work woes home with them. Their frustrations and stress trickle down to their families, neighbors and friends. As these relationships suffer, employees’ lives grow worse. Illness, depression, harmful habits and personality changes incubate, return to the workplace and hasten a downward trajectory. Some experts claim many of today’s current family and cultural problems originate in our workplaces.
Studies and surveys show a common cause: traditional management approaches that devalue people by regarding them as replaceable—nameless resources to be tolerated as long as numbers are met. Old-school leaders want goals achieved; if employees somehow benefit, then that’s a bonus.
Alternatively, leaders whose companies are thriving recognize the importance of people’s welfare. Simply put, companies grow when leaders help people feel fulfilled, individually and collectively. The process requires diligence, patience and passion.
Bringing People Together
Companies with the most unified people boast the greatest prosperity. Unified employees also bring home far less baggage: they experience less work-related stress and irritation.
Initiating and maintaining a culture of unity may initially seem daunting. The process involves four basic components, note Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia in Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family (Portfolio, 2015):
- Promoting value and purpose
- Fixing the most compelling problems people face
- Establishing teamwork and family
- Connecting with people personally
People feel unified when leaders create a culture of high purpose, moving everyone toward a noble goal. Share your company’s vision by clearly explaining and discussing it. When everyone works toward the same overall mission, depending on each other to achieve it, value is added to everyone’s role.
Employees with a higher sense of value have more pride and self-respect, which unlocks unforeseen potential. Value is often based on material assets, information or profit, but it’s legitimately found only in people, Chapman and Sisodia emphasize. When leaders ascribe value to all of their people, not just a select few, more pieces of the success puzzle find their place on the board.
Fixing Compelling Problems
Leaders who take note of employee struggles, and attempt to make their lives easier by showing care, concern and removing obstacles, build unity. Most employees want to be productive and proud of their work, yet the organizational environment may prevent them from feeling satisfied. Assess bottlenecks and resources:
- Are your methods and procedures taxing or wasteful?
- What about working conditions?
- Are people crammed together, with no room to work and little privacy?
- Is their environment noisy or distracting enough to hamper their focus?
- Do they have ample light to see what they’re doing?
- Is each team member tackling the work of three or four people?
- Are people putting in relentlessly long workdays?
Address any relevant issues to improve attitudes and unity. Add or reallocate resources to increase unity. Saving money while your people burn out benefits no one and kills unity.
Leaders who commit to solving problems forge even greater unity when they empower their people to be part of the solution. Establish multidisciplinary problem-solving teams to break down traditional silos, urge Chapman and Sisodia. Ask employees for feedback, ideas and solutions. Invite them to evaluate best options, formulate plans to implement fixes and participate in follow-up activities to continue improvement efforts. There’s no better way to obtain people’s buy-in and promote unity.
People want to be part of a winning team that practices effective teamwork in a positive, encouraging and confidence-building process.
Teamwork involves diligent communication, including company operations, issues and activities. Communicating goals and progress inspires people to use their talents and discover capabilities they didn’t even realize they had, note Chapman and Sisodia.
Inspire positivity and innovation. Ask challenging questions, provoke opportunities, and put your people to the test. Give them a chance to learn through mentorships, training and workshops. When people are invested in their contributions, they become emissaries of influence. They sense they’ve found a home and work hard to protect, improve and tout it.
Leaders need to set the example and model desired behaviors. This takes patience and practice. Learn to avoid trust-damaging conduct and policies.
Connecting with People
Relationships are foundational to unity, and leaders who are passionate about their people experience the greatest success. Talk with them transparently, and ask questions. Make every effort to understand what they care about, what concerns them and where they want to go.
Use your active listening skills to hear and fully comprehend what people have to say. Deep listening, as Chapman and Sisodia call it, involves sharing and understanding the feelings behind people’s words. Know what’s going on inside people’s heads, and show respect for who they are.
Listening often requires follow-up. Show people you value them by addressing their difficulties and concerns, whenever possible. Provide resources to see difficulties through to resolution.
Celebrate with team members who overcome challenges or perform commendably. This personal touch shows you care and puts you on the path to unity and prosperity. A unified, engaged, motivated and inspired workforce is the greatest weapon any leader can have. There’s nothing a unified team cannot do.
Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist & Executive Coach
Trusted Leadership Advisor
Professional Certified Coach (PCC), International Coach Federation
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I coach emotionally intelligent and mindful leaders to cultivate trust and full engagement in a purpose-driven culture who produce results.
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Tags: emotional intelligence, executive coaching, leaders build unity, leadership development, mindful leadership