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Developing a Company Culture that Fosters Healthy Leadership
Any human resources professional knows that a business’ success is the result of the collective efforts of the entire staff. A well-oiled machine that keeps every aspect moving smoothly. However, for that machine to function efficiently, it needs to be guided by strong, agile, sensitive leadership. This doesn’t just mean those at the very top of the organization, but those throughout each department.
The thing is, for healthy leadership to be a core aspect throughout your company, you can’t just put your efforts into recruiting the perfect leaders. There needs to be a culture of healthy leadership throughout the business so that current management and other members of staff can develop into the right influencers of your ongoing success.
As with any matter in business, this isn’t a quick and easy route to guaranteed triumph. However, focusing on making healthy leadership a core aspect of your culture not only ensures that your business can thrive, but also that it is sustainable for years to come. Let’s take a look at a few core aspects that you can focus on to help get your leadership culture on track to greatness.
Focus on Values
Your company’s values should be at the heart of everything you do. They help to inform the direction of the company and encourage the trust and confidence of staff and customers alike. As such, the approach to leadership needs to reflect your mission, and what is most important to all those connected to the company.
As an HR professional, you need to make sure that the conduct of leaders always epitomizes the central tenets of the business’ values. When leaders’ conduct falls short of this in making decisions, dealing with clients, or even the daily operations of the business, this needs to be highlighted. After all, how are employees and customers to consider your values authentic if those at the top fail to meet them? This feeds into the theory of behavioral leadership. In short, the focus for leaders is less on individual traits and abilities and more on actions and approaches.
The behavioral theory also makes a useful tool for employee development; taking emphasis away from gaining specific qualifications, and leaning more on learning through experience what the optimal way to lead your business is. One of the core HR tools that can help this from the very beginning is the code of conduct. Use the company values to shape these guidelines. This helps ensure that all members of the company — from entry level to leadership — adhere to values-centric actions. Make it explicit how aspects including social media usage, ethical conduct, and company representation should be undertaken with the company mission in mind. This helps you to establish values-optimized behavior as the basis for daily life, progression, and leadership from day one.
While it is certainly important for leadership to assert their seniority, a healthy approach is not dictatorial. Rather, it tends to be more effective to focus on building relationships both horizontally and vertically throughout the organization. Great leaders understand that forging genuine, positive connections with staff can inspire them to achieve and innovate. This is the key behind the transformational theory of leadership — that charismatic, caring leaders can encourage individual team members to transform and become better performers.
As an HR professional, it’s important to understand how this translates to leadership in different positions and departments throughout the company. Organizational leadership is, after all, a dynamic field — involving different types of interactions with teams and workers. One approach to relationship building is not going to suit all circumstances. Encourage leadership to explore how to shift their interpersonal communication to suit the types of relationships they need to build to better transform employees.
This applies to the hiring and development processes too. Even when recruiting entry-level candidates, seek to assess how they approach building relationships and their openness to learning how to do it better. One of the requirements in discovering high potential employees is being able to assess whether they can be trained to suit the needs of the company. This goes as much for abilities as leaders, as it does for hitting metrics. Consider not only whether they have the potential to develop new leadership traits, but also inspire transformation in others through their influence.
HR as Leadership
HR professionals too have to see themselves as leaders of the organization, helping to influence staff and even executives toward more healthy and effective methods of operation. As such, you need to epitomize the situational theory of leadership — understanding that no one approach to leadership is necessarily better than someone else’s, but that it can shift through situational variables. You need to guide both future and current leaders to develop in ways that best suit the business and the situations they’ll face.
Make certain that there is documentation for all levels of the organization that shows clear routes to progression throughout the company. Use these to provide staff with guidance as to how they should be forging their leadership skills and advice on how to get to the next level.
Own the Leadership Pipeline
Any business is fluid, and this goes for leadership too. Management comes and goes, executives will retire. It is your responsibility to build a pipeline program that takes the long view of the business, and to position staff in ways that help to serve the future and changing needs of the business.
Link Personalities to Styles
The HR department is in the unique position of being able to gain a deep understanding of the value of each member of staff. Through personnel reviews and ongoing assessments, you can identify where their strengths lie, and what approaches to leadership would best suit their personality and general work ethic. This can then be parlayed into talent development programs that capitalize on their strengths and fill in the soft and technical skills gaps.
A culture of healthy leadership can help a company thrive well beyond the tenure of its current senior executives. As an HR professional, you can influence the direction of the company by ensuring leaders are values focused, forging strong relationships, and effectively guided to reach their full potential.