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Healthy Practice Culture: It Starts With Leadership
Author's note: This is the second installment of a two-part series on the importance of a healthy practice culture. In part one, we explored the impact of a healthy culture on organizational success, identifying employee engagement, well-being, and loyalty as key success factors and concluding that effective leadership is the most important ingredient to create and promote a healthy practice culture. Now, we’ll explore the relationship between culture and leadership below.
Every organization with a healthy culture — one with happy, satisfied, engaged employees and productive teams that support organizational success — undoubtedly has engaged and effective leaders. A culture that is strong in these ways simply does not happen by accident. It requires someone who can align, inspire, and empower people. It is built upon a foundation of trust and transparent communication, where each person feels a connection and sense of belonging. So, how do leaders go about doing this? Let’s break it down further.
Ask the Right Questions
When discussing culture within an organization, there are several questions I like to ask that help identify individual leadership development opportunities. These opportunities are important to create a healthy culture that, in turn, supports the business success of the organization. Below are five questions to consider.
1. What is your organizational purpose (mission, vision, values, and goals)? This opens up an always interesting discussion about how leaders connect themselves and each team member back to the core purpose of the organization. Did you know a recent Porter Novelli/Cone study found that 83 percent of Generation Z in the U.S. considers a company’s purpose when deciding where to work? Understanding of purpose helps drive engagement and alignment, letting everyone know the “what, why, and how” you do what you do and how their role contributes to that.
2. How do you use your purpose to drive engagement? It’s one thing to have a clear organizational purpose. However, the true magic happens when this purpose is fully integrated into the business and everyone knows it, believes it, and understands how their job connects to it. In a PricewaterhouseCoopers employee survey, only 28 percent of respondents reported feeling fully connected to their company’s purpose. In the absence of this connection, we can expect that employees will experience demotivation, dissatisfaction, and, potentially, an exit from the business, which is costly. Integrating purpose intentionally in everything you do, from new employee onboarding and staff meetings to individual training and development, will serve as an important reminder that each person’s contribution plays a key role in the organization’s overall success.
3. How do you create trust with employees? Here’s a not-so-fun statistic — a Harvard Business Review survey revealed that 58 percent of employees trust strangers more than they trust their own bosses. Clearly, trust between leaders and staff is crucial to improving morale, increasing productivity, and reducing turnover. Trust builders for leaders include following through on commitments, communicating openly and honestly, and encouraging input and feedback from all staff.
4. How do you assess the well-being of your employees and yourself? In part one of our blog series, we identified well-being as an important component of healthy practice culture. Cultures that minimize workplace stress and promote a sense of well-being create higher levels of employee health, satisfaction, and productivity. One strategy to gauge well-being includes regular check-ins with staff, during which you ask how they are doing; what is bringing them the most fulfillment in their role; and how you, as a leader, can provide better support. And don’t just focus on everyone else — ask yourself these same questions. It is important that you address your own well-being, so you’re able to show up as the best version of the leader you want to be.
5. How do you practice being your best “future self”? This question is usually met with silence, and after a pause, the “I don’t know” answer comes along. Much like a healthy practice culture, being your best self does not happen by accident; it requires introspection, identifying opportunities, visualizing who you need (and want) to be, a plan to get there, and, most importantly, practice. How you show up today as a leader — and in the future — helps set the tone for the culture of the whole organization.
Take Stock in Your Leadership
The culture of any organization is a direct reflection of its leaders. Take stock of how you’re showing up, what you’re doing to promote team engagement, how you are inspiring and motivating those around you, what you could be doing differently or better, and what may be a barrier to showing up as your best self. Not only does your culture depend on it, but your organization will thrive because of it!
ADDITIONAL RESOURCE: View our on-demand webinar "Healthy Leadership: Put Your Mask on First" to assess and promote your well-being, so you can be the best leader for your organization and team.