Leaders’ role in developing a positive workplace culture
21 Jun 2023
5 min read
- Culture and diversity
Christine Wint, Head of Leadership Development at Skills for Care discusses the importance of leaders in creating a positive workplace culture.
Leaders are critical in setting the tone of organisational cultures, however, when we talk about culture what does your mind conjure up? For me it refers to how it feels to work somewhere.
Culture therefore, refers to the way we do things - what's expected, the standard of how we work. It's how people behave, the values that people hold, the way we treat people. It’s the rituals, myths and the stories that are contained within an organisation and the way decisions are made.
Culture can be seen in how we treat people when things go wrong. I think that's testament to whether you've got a good culture or an indifferent or a bad culture.
Do you treat mistakes as a learning opportunity or do you adopt a blame culture that says ‘you got this wrong’, without seeing the systemic issues that may have led to that error.
A positive workplace culture is an environment where everybody is aware of what their role is and how they connect across the organisation; there's a real sense of belonging. Everybody’s voices are heard so they feel valued and that their contributions are recognised and rewarded.
For me a positive culture is about people wanting to do the right things. It’s making the right decisions at the right time for the right people, for the right outcomes.
In a positive workplace culture everybody is recognised for having their individual assets and strengths to bring to the table and contribute to the organisation’s strategy and aims. It creates a feeling of psychological safety which empowers staff to leverage their full potential, as they feel safe, respected, accepted, and valued. They feel they can bring their whole and authentic selves to work.
Effective leaders invest time in shaping and influencing the culture of organisations. They set the tone; the pace; the vision of an organisation, importantly they carry everybody else with them.
Leaders set the standards of an organisation. We have all heard the saying “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept “. If leaders do not address unacceptable standards and behaviours across the organisation, then positive cultures will become unattainable. In order to develop and sustain positive cultures I think leaders need to have high levels of emotional intelligence, thus, they’re aware of themselves and the impact they have on others.
Leaders create positive cultures by having an open door and leading with authenticity - being honest and open with all their team members. It’s about getting to know your team member as an individual, having positive one-to-ones, making sure there's appraisals in place and leading from a strength-based perspective rather than adopting a hierarchical approach.
Leaders need to ensure they’re visible and that they seek the involvement of others so that people are heard in a supportive environment. It’s also about supporting people to be the best they can be and having a vision and a clear sets of objectives so that everybody knows where they're going and everybody feels as if they're contributing towards that.
Learning and development is important too. Both providing continuous development opportunities for your team and being open to continual learning and development for yourself too. Honesty, integrity, authenticity, openness, and mindfulness is what makes a good leader who can develop a positive workplace culture.
Have a look at Skills for Care’s ‘Supporting the development of leadership skills’ guide.
Find out more about #PositiveWorkplaceCulture with our spotlight.
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