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Building an effective leadership culture

How can your company develop leadership skills that will positively impact workplace culture?

It's a widely accepted business belief that company culture needs to start from the top, along with the values that define it. So how can you cultivate a great culture – one that inspires both collaboration and leadership – within your company?

We’ve already seen how a cohesive company culture can drive innovation and customer loyalty in companies that lack a traditional top-down management structure. But any organisation can benefit when its C-suite leaders establish a vision and leadership style that all employees want to follow. So what strategies can you use to achieve this?

Leading from the top

 A 2014 Hay Group study found that companies with a leadership-friendly culture enjoy better succession planning, and have more talent to choose from for future leadership roles. Additionally, it encourages staff to learn and grow on the job as they climb the career ladder.

 A clear, compelling company vision acts as a unifying force. When staff know exactly what they are striving towards, they can make bigger and bolder decisions with more confidence. It also produces greater collaboration because everyone is working together to create something of greater value.

 Setting a personal example that others can follow is a powerful way to communicate and reinforce the values of the organisation – a good illustration of this is the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. Accountability and transparency are also important. When a company’s leaders accept responsibility for their mistakes, it becomes the benchmark for the entire company.

 Moreover, organisations that nurture leadership skills also tend to value diversity of opinions, skills and backgrounds, because these elements can be interwoven to create a culture that is rich in ideas, innovation and passion.

Getting everyone on board

To perpetuate the right culture, and ensure that all key initiatives, including recruitment, training and retention programs, are strategically aligned, it’s important to ensure that all C-suite executives and middle managers are on the same page.

Mentoring can help with this. The Hay Group study revealed that two-thirds of leading organisations incorporate mentoring at the executive level, which helps accelerate leadership development and provides management staff with suitable role models.

Performance scorecards and incentives are other ways to ensure everyone is moving in the right direction. For instance, when customer service became a key differentiator at St. George Bank, customer satisfaction metrics began counting directly towards each employee’s overall performance rating.

When a culture of leadership and collaboration exists, people aren’t just aware of what they need to do – they know why it needs to be done. A strong unifying vision, accountability, mentoring and constant reinforcement of what makes the company unique are key to building leadership skills and a workplace culture that people want to be part of.

Download Canon’s new Work in Evolution research report to find out where Australian business ranks on trust, diversity and workplace change.

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