Create a culture of leadership

Create a culture of leadership

I love a team that has a strong culture of leadership. There is a maturity there, where everyone is putting others above themselves, letting go of egos, and while always looking at ways to go above and beyond to service the team, their customer, and ultimately the larger business. Leadership is for everyone regardless of title. Today we’ll dive into tips and strategies to help elevate the culture of leadership in your team.

Infuse the Values into what you do


At the heart of any leadership culture lies a set of core values that serve as the organization’s, and your team’s, compass. Leaders must articulate and embody these values, providing a foundation for decision-making and guiding the behavior of every individual within the community. Think of your Values as the shared agreement on the behaviors that each of you have. It shows your team how to do their work and lead themselves and others. If you need help understanding your personal values or how to ingrain your work values into yourself check out Living Your Values at Work (357) and Living Your Values at Home (358)

Shift the mindset of what leadership is

Leadership is not just about being in charge. It’s about building and sustaining relationships. It’s about understanding the impact of our words and actions on others. It’s about being intentional about how we show up and inspire others to achieve their goals. Does everyone on the team see themselves as a leader? Talk about leadership regularly in your talks with your team, and especially about their leadership in your shared success. As you build a culture of leadership, there is a likelihood that some don’t consider themselves leaders. Perhaps no one has ever told them that they are leaders and shown them that extra layer of respect.  Show them that a culture of leadership is inclusive of everyone. 

Promote open communication and collaboration


Communication is the lifeblood of leadership culture. Establish open channels for dialogue and encourage a culture of listening and understanding. Leaders should be approachable, and feedback should be viewed as a valuable tool for improvement. Strengthen collaboration by breaking down silos and creating opportunities for cross-functional engagement, both big and small. A culture of shared ideas and diverse perspectives breathes life into a culture of leadership.

Recognize and celebrate achievements


Acknowledging and celebrating achievements, both big and small, is a regular part of sustaining a positive leadership culture. Recognition reinforces the desired behaviors and motivates individuals to continue striving for excellence. Publicly acknowledge contributions, express gratitude, and celebrate milestones to create a culture where achievements are valued and rewarded. Recognition should highlight both the small things and the small moments of progress. You can find more tips on how to celebrate and recognize your team at Celebrate! (Show 140), Create Disney Magic with Lee Cockerell (Show 200) and Prove Me Right – Positive Reinforcement (Show 267)


Imagine a workplace where everyone is encouraged to take on leadership roles, regardless of their job title or level of experience. It doesn’t have to be a dream; this can be your reality! Embrace leadership for all, and create a space where collaboration, innovation, and creativity thrive because everyone feels empowered to contribute and make a difference.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Living the Values at Work

Living the Values at Work

I have built a career by tieing my work ethics, leadership priorities, and expectations around company values. Sometimes it was easy as others were aligned, to begin with, sometimes I was a hero as I entered a bad culture that desperately wanted change, and other times I was painted as the villain as I asked others to embrace change and held people accountable to how they did their work. 

Living the Values at your organization isn’t always easy, but it certainly is rewarding long term and had always helped me accelerate my own career opportunities along the way. 

Learn the Values and their place in the organization


When it comes to your organization’s values, dig in and get an understanding of what they are. The popular way that many companies express their values these are often through single words (empowerment, creativity, trust, service, etc). Although 1 or 2-word values are easier to remember, they really don’t say much or give real clarity to what they mean. Look for supporting documentation that unpacks what each one means to get a true sense of what the organization stands for. 

Once you gain that understanding, commit them to memory and look at how the company integrates (or doesn’t) the Values into programming, pay practices, and accountability. In other words, do they truly stand on their Values, or are they something that people look at during their orientation and never revisit?  Regardless of which side your company falls in putting its Values into action, understanding and aligning to the Values will help you stand out and accelerate your career. 

Make the Values your calling card


Forward-thinking companies will often refer to work that you accomplish in two ways: The What – Your level of performance as it relates to your job description and The How – How you accomplish your goals. It’s always encouraging to see companies that go all-in on the how with some even going as far as to say that they are equally important in evaluating their people and their ability to do more on the team. 

The How is all about Living the Values. As you continue to lean into how you carry yourself and your alignment with the company’s overall values, you’ll begin to build a reputation, and a very good one, that then becomes your calling card. People know what you expect when you enter the room and the high standard that you bring with you and those that you influence. 

Living the Values accelerates your career


If you put individuals side-by-side that are equally skilled, what would make you choose one over the other? If you’ve got a hiring leader that is worth following, they will always choose the person that is strong in how they get their work done. Here are some ways that Living the Values accelerates your career. 

You build stronger working relationships: It doesn’t matter whether you are an introvert or an extravert, a person that Lives the Values in the workplace will always have better relationships than someone that does not. You’ll be known as a partner, colleague, and friend to an ever-growing extended network across the organization. If you’ve company doesn’t emphasize your Values as it should, then people may not make the connection, but they will know that there is something different about you and that they just enjoy being around and working with you. Your life will be easier as you have people with different skills to help support you and your work that relies on others’ involvement will be easier to arrive at positive conclusions. 

You’ll likely become a connector for others: It’s been said that a person that is a connector (Someone who makes networking connections for others) advances the quickest in an organization. it’s one thing to develop people in a silo, and quite a different thing to connect people together in order to make their work-life more effective or even to help them advance their own journey.

The strength here is from leveraging those working relationships in a way that brings value to everyone. Your values will lead you to do this in an unselfish way. You’ll give away great talent for the betterment of the organization, it will help keep any leadership ego in check, and you’ll naturally lead in a more servant leadership-like way. (EP 131 Characteristics of Servant Leadership & EP 132 Servant Leadership in Action for more)

You will be a role model for others to follow: I love being a culture champion. It’s so rewarding to see how teams blossom and thrive as they collectively embrace a shared positive culture. As I grew in my journey from an individual contributor to a leader of many, I took pride in being able to be a role model for others and influencing change for the better. 

If you are in a tough culture, be a beacon of light for others by how you lead yourself. If you lead others, model the behaviors that you expect of them. When you say to them to Live the Values, they need to see what that looks like and means in the real working world.  Many people strive to leave a lasting legacy behind them. It’s a sense of larger purpose in what we do. You can accomplish that in a larger and more meaningful way as you model those values for others to follow. 

You’ll be given more influence and responsibility: Those that lead themselves by the company’s values will almost always attract more influence power and additional responsibility. This is a great way for you to have a chance to shine in an authentic way that can help others.

For those Baton Carriers that are in their sweet spot and don’t want to (and shouldn’t) continue advancing, know that more influence and responsibility is a good thing for you as well. Remember that you know your limits (Ep 140 for help here) and share those if you feel like you are being stretched too thin. 

Lean into the Values as you lead yourself on your career journey. Your team will thrive, you’ll continue on an upward trajectory of your choosing and you’ll leave a lasting impact behind you. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

How to build a consistent and authentic culture

How to build a consistent and authentic culture

I’m thankful that we are living in a time where companies are starting to truly see and realize the value of great organizational culture. Culture should be a top priority for all companies. It dictates who you are, and is an ever-increasing factor when employees decide to stay with you or go somewhere else. 

Staying consistent and authentic with your culture can be surprisingly difficult. Scaling business, remote work, multiple locations, new generations of leaders and large scale projects all pull at your culture. Many popular companies like Apple, Ford, Lego, Coke, and others all fell away from their culture at different points and had to take great efforts to bring it all back where things needed to be. 

Thankfully there are steps you can take to ensure that you keep your culture true and strong as you grow. 

Constantly talk about it 


Your team knows what is important by what you talk about. Perhaps more importantly, they know what’s not a priority by what is rarely talked about by their leader. The mission, vision, and values should be threaded through all that you do so that it stays top of mind. 

I have designed feedback loop documents, visit guides, and accountability check-ins for several organizations over the years. No matter the industry, I always start the document with culture and values. Always.  Money and financial accountability usually don’t hit until second or even third depending on how strong the culture of the company is.

If your boss consistently comes in and talks about how important culture is and checks to see how your team is living it out, wouldn’t you think that’s a driving factor in your leadership? You’re also likely to pass that perspective on to your team as well. 

Talk about culture at meetings, reviews, and check-ins. The more that it becomes a part of your everyday conversation with others, the better. 

Designate a guardian or team to watch over culture


One of the most common fears for employees in culturally sound fast-growing companies is that the culture is going to take a significant hit as they scale out business. How do you keep the lightning in the bottle?

Assigning someone, or a team, to act as guardians and keepers of culture is certainly helpful. It gives your employees ownership into what’s most important to the organization and it keeps the leadership team from veering too far off with a different perspective.  A great look for this team would be one person from each department and varying levels of responsibility. 

Authentic cultures don’t focus on just themselves


Season one of Leaders of Atlanta focuses on C-Suite leaders in tech companies across the city. One of the most affirming pieces from my personal perspective was how strong each of their cultures was and how connected they were to each other.  

None of the tech companies were trying to do culture on their own. Yes, they each had a unique voice, but they also learn from each other. What is working? What is not? Each of the leaders also had some type of mentor in their life that made sure they were staying on track personally and professionally. 

Reach out to others around you, both inside and outside your industry to see how you can strengthen culture up back home. 

Don’t confuse perks with culture


Slick furnishings, modern offices, ping pong tables, restocked kitchens, and unlimited paid time off are all great things. Some organizations confuse these offerings with their culture. All of these types of things are great perks, but they are simply that; perks. Your perks may point back to the culture that you want in your company, but it can never replace the culture itself. If that were the case, what happens to your culture when the ping pong table breaks?

Use perks as a magnet for new talent and a factor in retention, not as a crutch to fill in your culture needs. 

Protect culture like you would a cherished family member.  Give it the care and the attention it deserves so that it thrives. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH