Great cultures need great leaders - not just those who sit at the top of the organisation, but throughout the company. Cultivate a leadership approach to life, whatever your job, and you will add value to a great company.
The cultures that nurture this approach engage in ‘servant leader- ship' - a style of relating common to all the great companies included in this book. Not all of them call it by that name, but it defines the way people throughout the company behave towards each other.
Essentially it means providing, at every level of the organisation:
a clear, understandable rationale for the business - an inspiring vision to follow, a sound strategy for action and clear measures so that success is identifiable
service, placing each colleague in an environment that supports their very best work - ie asking ‘How can we help you?', ‘What do you need?', ‘What will help you do a great job?'
This applies both to those with ‘leader' in their title and to everyone else. Every manager must help their people understand their work in the context of the business, and every manager must enable - serve - those who follow them, providing an environment in which they can do their best work.
To cultivate this in your workplace, be prepared to:
listen well - You can serve only when you know what the other person needs. Taking time to listen to concerns and ideas is the most positive way to create a great culture. So practise listening skills and resist the temptation to talk first.
explore understanding - Make sure everyone you work with under- stands where they fit into the business. Whether you have one direct report or lead a division of 2,000, each person must recognise the impact their work makes on the success of the whole. Help your people to see the value they add and they will work in quite a different way.
challenge the status quo - Do not accept behaviours and actions just because it is what you always do and it makes life easier. Be rigorous in expectations of yourself and those you work with. This will bring creativity and excitement to the workplace. Remember: everyone wants to do a good job. If you expect it of them, standards will rise.
be honest - Great teams/organisations have trust at their heart. Deliver tough and pleasant messages with equal honesty. Make sure people know where they stand and you will earn loyalty in the long term.
live your guiding principles - Do not leave those principles/values in the desk drawer. Incorporate them into your day-to-day behaviour. Be a role model of a great manager/leader and treat others as you want to be treated yourself.
keep track of your own impact and gather feedback regularly. It is really easy to get into a rut of behaviour. We all have our little habits and rarely realise how irritating/counterproductive they can be for others. Stay in touch with your impact by inviting feedback, cultivating open relationships where people are not afraid to challenge you, and taking time out for your own development.