Where do you start when it comes to changing the culture at your workplace and putting an end to the vicious cycle of poor results, low morale, disengagement and dissatisfaction? This is a question that will eventually have to be addressed by any leader who is up to anything worthwhile. However, if you have ever tried to do just that, you know finding the right answer is much easier said than done.
It is apparent to me that leaders are often looking for that new process or procedure or tool guaranteed to create engagement and improve their results. My experience has been that, while access to the latest technology often acts as an effective catalyst, the fundamental attitudes and behaviors that make or break a team are timeless and universal. While their particular manifestations can and should change depending on each unique situation, the fundamental beliefs that undergird them invariably cultivate the sense of personal accountability that directly impacts the results that the team produces, no matter when and where they are implemented.
What do you think about when you hear about someone who has spent the better part of the past 25 years of their life abusing hard drugs and going in and out of prison? Would you be surprised if I told you that I recently met a bunch of people who fit this description, and that I could not have been more impressed with their strength of character, integrity, commitment, and leadership? Would you believe me if I said that they constitute an ideal model of how business culture should function in the world? Well, it’s true!
The best leaders I’ve been exposed to are the ones who practice situational leadership. They don’t treat everyone the same or communicate in exactly the same way with everyone, instead they get to know people, gauge situations, and tailor their approach to the person and situation they are working with. Interestingly, the worst leaders do exactly the same thing… The difference is that great leaders operate based on a strong set of principles and remain true to those as they adapt to different situations and audiences, and therefore are perceived as and respected for their consistent leadership. The worst kind of leaders, on the other hand, simply make opportunistic decisions based on what’s best for them individually, or for the few people they need to keep happy to push their agenda. The former commands respect even if people disagree with their ideas, but the hypocrisy practiced by the latter makes one wonder if those who support them are actually oblivious of what is going on or are just turning a blind eye because they see something in it for themselves.
Most organizations have some combination of a purpose, mission, vision, set of values, or principles, and unfortunately for many, these inspirational and aspirational words become mere decoration on the walls…