Every company aspires to – or should aspire to – create a culture where employees are highly invested in the company’s success and run it like they own it. But unless you have the right formula, you can make many missteps and blunders. I’ve spent years helping companies build effective organizational cultures. I’ve found the key is using the following equation: Trust + Spark = Leadership Culture. In my new book, The Leadership Equation, I expand the equation into the 10 most important practices for building trust and spark.
- Trust hinges on a sense of reciprocity – that everyone’s doing his or her fair share. It’s the leader’s job to set the tone. He or she must demonstrate a willingness to listen, to act fairly, and to consistently make decisions in the best interest of the company, not in personal self-interest.
- To get the best performance from employees, leaders need to encourage open communication. When leaders share more information with employees on all levels, it opens the door for tough but important conversations, honesty about issues, and an exchange of ideas.
- Compensation is just one element of reciprocity – but it’s an important one. If people perceive equal pay for equal work, trust will grow.
- Giving people goals to aim for, with positive consequences if they succeed, will help build trust.
- Trust continually needs replenishment and reinvestment. Even when levels of trust are high, leaders need to keep reinforcing these habits.
Spark (or Innovation):
- Innovation works hand-in-hand with trust to be a major driver of organizational success.
- Leaders should encourage employees to experiment, try new things and embrace the possibilities inherent in innovation.
- Leaders and managers can help spark innovation by removing structural roadblocks or policy-related barriers.
- Leaders should shine a spotlight on any efforts to improve systems, increase sales, and out-perform the competition – whether successful or not.
When trust and spark are working in concert, people experience an increased sense of work satisfaction and creative flow. Together, they result in a culture where people all become leaders. In this kind of “leadership culture,” everyone runs it like they own it.