Why Leadership Matters in Organisational Culture

Carly Cannings, Founder of The Happy Business School delivering a keynote.

Creating a people-centric workplace with a thriving and engaged workforce is no easy feat. Many leaders recognise the importance of a positive workplace culture for long-term success, however, it can be difficult to bring about significant change. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the role of leadership in changing workplace culture and the importance of embracing leadership’s role in culture change.

1. Understanding the Current Workplace Culture

Before leaders can positively impact their organisation’s culture, they must have a deep understanding of the current workplace climate. By conducting surveys, focus group discussions and informal conversations with team members, leaders can identify existing cultural patterns, workplace values and employee satisfaction levels. Informed by this information, they can devise a plan to cultivate a workplace culture that better aligns with the organisation’s values and goals.

2. Establishing a Clear Vision and Values

One of the most crucial aspects of successful leadership in culture change is setting a clear vision and core values for the organisation. Through collaboration with stakeholders, including both employees and leaders themselves, leaders can establish a cultural framework that defines the organisation’s mission, vision and values. This strong foundation allows everyone in the organisation to understand what it stands for and guides behaviour in the workplace.

3. Leading by Example

Leaders play a significant role in organisational culture by demonstrating the change they wish to see. By acting in accordance with the established vision and values, leaders set the tone and demonstrate their commitment to creating a positive work environment. Team members are more likely to align their behaviours and attitudes when they see leaders embodying the organisational values.

4. Engaging and Empowering Employees

Employees are more likely to participate in organisational culture change when they feel engaged and empowered. Leaders must create an environment where team members feel heard and valued. Open communication, soliciting feedback and involving employees in decision-making are effective ways to facilitate engagement and demonstrate respect for their opinions and ideas. Additionally, providing opportunities for professional development and maintaining a transparent performance management system can foster a culture of empowerment and growth.

5. Recognising and Rewarding Positive Change

To encourage employees to adopt the desired cultural behaviours, leaders should establish a system that recognises and rewards positive change. By regularly celebrating successes and reinforcing the organisation’s values, leaders can create a sense of shared responsibility and collective pride in the new workplace culture. This motivates employees to align their behaviours and attitudes with the organisational vision.

6. Constantly Evaluating, Adjusting and Reinforcing Change

The process of changing workplace culture is continuous. Leaders must consistently evaluate progress, make necessary adjustments and reinforce the desired changes to ensure long-term success. Regular assessments and feedback loops help in identifying areas of improvement and staying accountable to the organisation’s vision and goals. By being agile and adaptable, leaders can drive sustainable change and create a truly people-centric workplace culture.

In conclusion, leadership plays a crucial part in changing workplace culture and creating an environment where employees can thrive and be happy. By taking the steps outlined above, leaders can significantly increase the likelihood of achieving a successful culture transformation.

5 myths about happiness at work

Wrong. The absence of disease isn’t health and the absence of misery isn’t happiness. Just because we might do enough as leaders to not have our people crying at their desks doesn’t mean we are invested in their happiness. Just because an employees comes in every day, does a good job and leaves without complaining about anything doesn’t mean they are happy.

Wrong. It’s right that some some people are more naturally optimistic but, with practice, you can become happier. There is a wealth of science that shows, when we know how, we can train our brains to be more positive. Asking someone to write down three good things that have happened in the last 24 hours may appear glib but this is about training the brain to spot positive things. When we learn to look for things we see them more easily.

Wrong. In fact blind optimism is a bad thing. Who wants to be in a plane where the pilot never believes anything bad can happen so doesn’t bother doing all the safety checks (not me for sure!). Just like in the world of work we don’t want to fail to look out for the risks and dangers, we just don’t want to be overwhelmed by the fear of them.

Wrong. The science tells us that being happier at work makes us more productive, more resilient, more creative, more accurate, more analytical, less likely to take time off sick, leave or burnout. Who doesn’t want those benefits? Yes, what a great wellbeing initiative to be able to say we are interested and investing in your happiness but it goes much further than that. There are real business benefits to helping people increase their happiness.

This one is only a half myth. Yes, people need to be invested in working on their own happiness but as a leader it is for us to help them with that, to show them we value their happiness, to allow them time to work on it, to give them the tools they need to become happier at work. Importantly we need to help them understand why being happy at work is important. As a leader if you can show you are invested in your own happiness it will show your people they should invest in theirs too.

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Forget gimmicks like ice cream van visits or ping pong tables – let’s work together to build a positive culture where people feel valued and encouraged. Let’s help your people find purpose and meaning in their work.

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