GUEST: Ohad Hecht, CEO at Emarsys
You know when you’re trying to be a good role model to a kid in your life?
Every time they’re around, you’re hyper-conscious about doing good.
But we all slip up once in a while. For some reason, that’s always the thing kids remember. Like when you stub your toe and blurt out a profanity. Then the next day your nephew is toddling around, repeating said profanity. (His mom gives you the death glare.)
Being a leader of an organization isn’t unlike being a good role model for a kid. Just replace the kid with a group of capable adults.
He shares four ways leaders can impact culture:
- Being a role model
- Truly caring about people
- Living out your values
- Creating a system of checks and balances
Let’s dive into number one.
1. Be a role model for your employees
This one might sound a little obvious, but its relevance makes it worth noting.
Essentially, by being a role model for your employees, you’re setting a precedent for how you expect others to act. So, if you’re one to answer emails a week later, guess what your employees are going to think is okay to do?
The University of Florida’s office of human resources lists out steps leaders can take to ensure they’re setting a good example for employees. Some of them include:
- Treating your employees respectfully. Letting them know you appreciate their efforts.
- Providing honest and detailed feedback on a regular basis. Asking employees for their feedback on you.
- Keeping commitments. Never promising to do things that you know you can’t follow through.
- Owning up to your mistakes. Never blaming your slip-ups on someone else.
- Being mindful of how you respond to changes. Providing an outlet for employees to share their concerns instead of participating in deconstructive gossip.
- Following the rules and policies that are put in place. As a leader, you’re modeling the behavior that’s expected of employees.
It’s been said that CEO actually stands for Culture Executive Officer (or, at least, that’s how we should view the role).
The thing is, whether we realize it or not, teams are going to emulate their leaders’ behavior. That’s why it’s so important that leaders grasp the fact that they are indeed role models.
With great power comes great responsibility, right?
2. Show people you really care about them
Ohad points out that making people feel cared for is one of the most effective leadership strategies.
When people know you care about them, they’ll feel encouraged to keep doing their best work. Plus, you create a stronger bond between yourself and employees when you show that you care about them. That way, team members feel more loyalty towards the organization.
Ways that you can show people you care about them:
- Make eye contact when they’re talking with you.
- Praise them on a job well done.
- Recognize when they’re feeling down on themselves and see if you can help in any way.
- Ask them about their dreams outside of work.
- Offer to teach them something you know they’ve been eager to learn.
- Offer chances for personal or professional development.
- Let them know they have your approval.
- Give them credit for something they alerted to.
- Share your honest feedback instead of censoring yourself for the sake of feelings.
- Offer one-on-one meetings with them if they’re interested.
- Respond to messages in a timely manner.
- Offer to introduce them to someone they’d like to know in your network.
- Share useful resources with them.
- Ask them questions to help uncover their strengths and talents.
There’s really no limit to how you can show your employees you care about them. They should know that you value the expertise they bring to the table.
Even seemingly innocuous things can demonstrate your gratitude towards your team, like asking them about their family or how they’re handling their workload.
3. Live out your company values
Ideally, your personal values are in line with those of your organization. To positively impact your company’s culture, it’s crucial to live out these values day-to-day.
Take, for example, Ohad’s company Emarsys. At Emarsys, they prioritize a healthy work-life balance. Ohad demonstrates this value by making the most of his time outside of work. He goes to the gym, reads, and spends time with his family every day he’s not traveling.
“Never neglect your health. Never neglect your family.”
OHAD HECHT from Emarsys
Say your organization has a similar value to Emarsys, such as diversity and inclusion. As a leader — who may not necessarily be involved in the hiring process — how do you demonstrate diversity and inclusion?
You could start by urging the rest of the C-level to focus on hiring and promoting minorities and women.
You could invite more minorities and/or women to important meetings. You could initiate a minority or women’s professional development program. You could encourage a woman or minority at your company to go for a promotion.
Acting out your company’s values goes back to being a good role model. Leading by example, especially when you’re serving others, is wildly effective for impacting your company’s culture.
Pro tip: Try to intentionally perform one act a day that supports one of your company’s values. Over time, you’ll form habits that others can aspire to.
4. Establish a system of checks and balances
Maybe you’re the Big Kahuna, but you’re certainly not the only one making decisions around the office (at least, you shouldn’t be).
To positively impact your company’s culture, there should be an established system of checks and balances. Team members shouldn’t feel fearful to call out any member of leadership when there’s a discrepancy.
Although you may be the one signing off on things, it’s essential that others are delegated the power to make purchasing or process decisions. You can’t handle everything in the company. No one likes a micro-manager.
“You need to speak with different people across the organization to make sure you have buy-in.”
OHAD HECHT from Emarsys
It should be known that other stakeholders — besides the CEO — need to be consulted when making big decisions.
How does a system of checks and balances affect the culture? Majorly.
Team members have more skin in the game. They feel more responsibility to make good choices. There’s a feeling of collaboration and actual teamwork. People feel more loyalty towards the organization.
Impacting company culture
To summarize, Ohad offers four significant ways leadership affects company culture.
- By being role models
- By truly caring about people
- By living out your company’s values
- By establishing a system of checks and balances
Never underestimate the influence you, as a leader, have over the culture of your company.
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