What kind of culture do you live and work within?

I’ve been reading a fascinating book lately by Lisa Messenger, in it she talks about how she consciously built an empowering culture for her employees. Now I’ve worked in some very dubious work cultures, I’ve worked in places where it was accepted that staff members worked way more hours than they were paid for, I’ve worked in an office on my own with very little by way of managerial support or supervision and I’ve worked in a place where lunch was served in a Harry Potter style hall, the hall was only for the pen pushers in the organisation and those that carried out jobs like cooking, cleaning, post etc had their lunch served in the basement. Dubious, very dubious…

I know full well as an employee, and a human being, I was capable of speaking up against such negatively impacting scenarios in work places, but sometimes the culture is so entrenched, or the organisation seems so hard up, or the power at the top is so elite that you feel scared to speak up. I always knew, when I was in the above posts, that I was capable of delivering so much more than the boundaries of the work places allowed. I was like a caged animal in some of the posts, probably why I never stayed in a job for longer than 18 months…

But what I am increasingly seeing and hearing as I engage with more and more innovative, inspirational and progressive business leaders is the importance of a positive culture in a workplace if you want your team to deliver creative, insightful work in an efficient, authentic and joyful manner. You can’t expect an employee to feel empowered and like their authentic selves if you have strict Dickensian rules about what time to come to work, what to wear, how to talk to others, what kind of mask to put on to get through the day. When people are given a great environment to develop ideas and share thoughts they feel like who they really are is celebrated.

If you’re in a workplace that dampens down your individuality, a place where no one sees your true brilliance, because it isn’t allowed to shine through, then it leads to un-fulfilment, sluggishness, burn out and depression. As leaders one part of our jobs is to be inspirational, be the change you want to see in the world, but another part of our role is to create a container in which those we employ get to shine.

A new leadership approach is collaboration. It’s a feminine approach, collaboration rather than competition. Seeing those that work for you as people who work with you is the way forward, letting people bring their unique gifts and style is key to creating a dynamic workforce ready to take on the world.

I am pretty certain that had some past working environments I experienced given me the chance to truly contribute and grow authentically as me, then I’d still be with them, and we’d be changing the world. As it happens I now work for myself, where I ensure I get the opportunity to shine as the real me, and who knows what world changing lies on the path ahead…

1 Comment
  • Michaela Horan
    Posted at 19:35h, 24 February

    After years in local government I find myself yearning for a collaborative workplace like the one you describe…sounds like a dream, but one which is well worth trying to make a reality 🙂

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