4 Leadership Habits That Create a Positive Company Culture
Cultivating and maintaining a positive company culture gives organizations a strategic advantage in today’s competitive work environment. Research shows that organizations that prioritize and nurture a positive workplace culture see increases in productivity, performance, and profits. Companies with positive cultures report seeing a 4x increase in revenue growth and cumulative returns of up to 495%.
What is positive company culture?
Company culture is represented by a shared understanding of how employees interact with one another and with customers. Leaders introduce their values to the company, and as they become deeply ingrained principles, these values guide the company’s actions and serve as the cultural cornerstones.
The most common company values are integrity, honesty, accountability, trust, and respect. To promote awareness and adoption, leaders often add visual and written reminders of the company values to office decor, corporate publications, websites, and social media.
Employees seeking a positive company culture tend to look for workplaces that are fun, challenging, engaging, rewarding, collaborative, and flexible, with high employee engagement. By contrast, employees will avoid organizations with high levels of burnout and negative cultures that can be described as toxic, distrustful, stressful, tense, and micromanaged.
Oftentimes, employees assume company values are set by top management and employees are expected to accept and implement them at work. However, creating a value-centered culture at work takes time and experience; culture grows through repeatedly putting values into action. As managers and team leaders build positive employee experiences with the company values, the company culture emerges. Employees then share and extend this culture among colleagues and customers.
What role do leaders play in creating a values-based culture?
Leaders influence values-based culture adoption through their leadership style. The two most common leadership styles are authoritative and influential. Authoritative leaders communicate their message and expect employees to follow it in order to keep their jobs. Influential leaders, by contrast, lead by example, inspiring their teams to adopt and embody the company’s values.
Shirzad Chamine, Founder and CEO of Positive Intelligence, says “leaders who can paint a picture of the impact their shared values will have on individual work, company environment, and customers inspire teams into action. Building a positive culture improves the quality of the product or service, team interactions, and individual growth.”
Two character traits of leaders who accelerate cultural growth
Influential leaders live and demonstrate the company values daily, especially in their interactions with employees and customers. Great leaders exemplify company values through two important leadership character traits.
“Great leaders are willing to show up as they are. By admitting their mistakes to their team, they demonstrate their humanity and earn the trust of their team,” Chamine says. “Earned trust is a cornerstone of productivity and performance.”
If a company values honesty, integrity, and accountability, it will work to ensure there’s a safe environment for admitting mistakes. Leaders who fully model cultural values, and willingly communicate mistakes, create a safe space for employees to admit their mistakes, too.
Leaders who demonstrate vulnerability may seem weak; however, Brene Brown’s research on shame, vulnerability, and leadership shows the opposite is true. “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage,” says Brown.
Leadership that inspires teams to action builds a culture of trust and accountability in relationships. “Vulnerability is the currency of relationships,” Chamine notes. “When the leader makes a mistake and admits to it, they earn trust and respect and communicate a culture of safety.”
4 leadership habits that cultivate a positive company culture
1. Interact with employees and exemplify core values
Leaders have a significant impact when they actively participate with staff in and out of meetings to communicate and build culture. Each interaction is an opportunity to reinforce company values and to show appreciation for employees as human beings. According to Chamine, creating a safe and trusting workplace is essential to establishing a positive culture.
“Trusted leaders demonstrate that their office is a safe place to share personal perspectives and to encourage diversity and individual thought,” Chamine says. “When leaders invest in personal and team growth, they are laying a foundation for exceptional performance and productivity.”
2. Communicate directly and often
Frequent, clear communication increases an employee’s sense of value. Use internal communication strategies to encourage and support direct contact.
- Bridge the gap between leaders and workers. (Use direct internal channels to keep the lines of communication open.)
- Increase mutual understanding personally and professionally. (Try setting up scheduled meetings specifically designed to improve engagement.)
- Provide clarity about individual roles, responsibilities, and challenges. (Encourage teams to collaborate and celebrate mutual wins, too.)
3. Invest in team growth to build shared perspectives
Team training and development demonstrates an organizational commitment to the value of individual beliefs and experiences within the team. Team training can uncover personal worldviews, unconscious biases, and attitudes that may be sabotaging productivity. Investing in team growth sets the stage for cultivating a shared identity that is aligned with individual worldviews and builds mutual understanding. Over time, individuals desire and invest in success for themselves, their teammates, and the organization—something Chamine describes as a “Triple Purpose.”
“Maximal team performance relies on individual and mutual success,” Chamine says, “Triple Purpose, the inspiration to grow in meaningful and lasting ways for themselves and their teammates, enables them to impact the lives of others, including customers, positively.”
4. Elevate emotional intelligence through mental fitness practice
The best company cultures engage leaders and employees with high levels of emotional intelligence. These individuals are self-aware, self-managed, and socially aware, and they build positive relationships across an organization. A program of mental fitness training can strengthen leaders’ and employees’ emotional intelligence competencies, helping to improve engagement, wellbeing, relationships, and performance.
How does mental fitness training improve company culture?
Mental fitness training builds employees’ ability to quickly shift negative emotions to positive ones in the face of challenging circumstances. The Positive Intelligence® program uses a three-step approach to help individuals and teams build new neural pathways to positivity and a growth mindset.
1. Individuals learn to name their negative thought patterns, or Saboteurs, that sabotage their performance, relationships, and wellness.
2. Participants develop the self-command to shift from a negative mindset to a positive one when a negative thought pattern emerges.
3. Individuals learn to perform daily mental fitness training to build neural pathways in their brains that lead to positive responses to life’s daily challenges.
The Positive Intelligence program represents a breakthrough in the ability to raise Emotional Intelligence (EQ) across an organization. Research shows that in just six weeks of mental fitness practice, positive neural pathways grow, negative ones diminish, and participants elevate competencies in 17 of 18 EQ categories. Teams that incorporate mental fitness into their culture at work are 92% more collaborative, 84% better at managing conflict, 91% better at managing stress, and 85% happier.
The best company culture improves performance and wellness
A company’s continued commitment to building a positive workplace culture pays dividends for both individuals and teams. With an organizational habit of mental fitness training:
- team performance rises
- employee engagement improves
- mutual trust and communication grow
When organizations invest in nurturing a positive culture, the false idea that stress is an effective motivator and competitive advantage gives way to the reality that culture at work can be both productive and positive.