An organization’s culture is driven by its leadership. Leaders are the ones who engage their associates, provide a safe and supportive work environment, and inspire them to greater achievement.

Or not.

A new leader needs to be mindful of the fact that the organization is no better than its people.

But it’s not easy to come into an existing work culture and try to make changes, even if those changes are positive.

There are many instances in which leaders don’t support their associates and make decisions that disengage them. When a new leader comes into this environment, people are already on the defensive wondering when this new guy (or gal) is going to rip their heads off for a mistake.

With that said, here are some tips for new leaders who want to create a positive culture in their organization.

1. Embody the changes you want to see

You’ve heard the phrase, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This applies to the workplace as well. If you want people to respect you, first show them that you respect them. If you want people to reach out to you and communicate, then you must reach out and communicate first. If you want people to openly share ideas and contribute, then you must create the environment in which they feel safe and empowered to do that. These are things you can’t delegate or expect to happen without your active participation.

2. Keep learning

A commitment to being a lifelong learner stimulates your personal development and your growth as a leader in your new work environment. You will need both theoretical and practical learning to accelerate your personal development and growth as a leader. Your theoretical learning should come from reading at least 1 book a month to start, attending seminars, and working with a coach. This learning approach will supply you with a treasure chest of new tools (ideas) to try. Each day, plan to put into practice a concept that you learned and study the results. Practical learning will come from the application of the new tools you have learned by working hands-on with your team each day. It is important that you see your team as a valuable source for your learning, because they are the ones in the arena working 8-12 hrs per day and they will inherently gather insights about the topics of your concern and provide a unique perspective. Their insights combined with their unique backgrounds and skills will provide you with a valuable pool of resources to tap into to solve problems. By committing to collaboration with your teams of people and being open to their perspectives, you will gain the benefits of being able to see a problem from various viewpoints. Asking people for their input creates a culture of collaboration that supports team engagement and continuous improvement. Both are critical for keeping a company moving forward.

3. Care about your employees

In the modern work culture, there is no strict separation between one’s professional and personal persona; it recognizes that everyone within the organization is valuable – that they are not cogs in the machine. They are people, with goals, challenges, interests and unique talents. Their wellbeing directly impacts their engagement and productivity. 

  • Show an interest in their personal growth and support their professional development
  • Give them opportunities to challenge themselves within the organization 
  • Take care of their physical wellbeing (ergonomic chairs, safety, good lighting, etc.)
  • Help people form a bond through social activities and through shared community service
  • Make them feel valued in every way; as important contributors to the company’s success
  • Share your vision, mission, and values, and help them understand how their involvement in the company can help them achieve their own goals. 
  • Reward them, in meaningful ways, for their loyalty, hard work, and initiatives

These three tips help new leaders improve the work culture so that everyone becomes a willing and active participant in the company’s success. Change begins with you. Even if you’re brand new! Take the time to get to know your people, support and respect them, and you will be rewarded with loyalty and engagement that will take your organization to new heights.