Managing a diverse workforce is a challenging task. Different communication styles, as well as unique strengths and weaknesses, makes the job of developing a healthy workplace culture one of the most important, and often difficult challenges. It can be exhausting. It can be thankless and disheartening. Unless you have the right perspective on the purpose of this responsibility, it can take every ounce of your strength and leave you feeling stressed. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be all darkness when trying to motivate and inspire your employees. Truly, the only requirement for a cohesive team is this: a culture of camaraderie. It is the job of the leader to establish camaraderie between workers. And, if you are successful, it will last and grow; becoming a part of the culture. So how does a leader create a culture of camaraderie? Two words.
Authenticity is the foundation for building trust, and trust is the key to cooperation and camaraderie. Trust is what develops between individuals who share a common set of values and beliefs. This can be demonstrated in a family, a town, a country, or a company. When people who share values and beliefs come together, trust and cooperation develops. The only way to develop this trust, then, is to be your authentic self. This goes for companies as well. The more authentic the company seems to be, the more that their values steer their decision-making, the more successful they can become. The act of attempting to seem more authentic is an oxymoron. Companies attempt to be more authentic by doing market research rather than taking the time to understand what they believe, and why they truly do what they do. Companies that take advantage of market research take advantage of our mistaken belief that reliability is synonymous with trustworthiness. A company can be trustworthy and not consistent, and it can be consistent, but not trustworthy. Trust, then, is developed out of acts of authenticity and not out of reliability or consistency.
So how does a company authentically express their values and beliefs? How do they connect with customers who share similar beliefs in order to foster loyalty? From the inside out.
In order to provide an authentic image, a company must do two things. First, they must make executive decisions that reflect their values and beliefs, and second, they must hire individuals who share those beliefs. So what does this mean for a leader? How does authenticity help develop loyalty and cooperation in the workplace? Just as customers are people, and their trust in a company is impacted by the authenticity of the business, so is the workforce made up of people who are impacted by the authenticity of their leaders. Therefore, a leader who exemplifies authenticity through honest purpose-driven behaviour, will empower staff under their care to follow suit.
True leadership leaves a ripple effect. Authentic interactions with employees and peers inspire purpose-fueled action.
The remarkable consequence of authentic behaviour is the sense of safety that develops. When we are among like-minded people, we feel safe because we know that our values and passions are the same. We feel that we can express ourselves more fully, and in the workplace, we are more willing to experiment. A company that is authentic acts as a magnet for prospective employees who share the same set of beliefs.
When authenticity exists in the workplace, the common purpose of values and beliefs that brings co-workers together allows for innovation to occur. Experiments and risks begin to take place because the group of like-minded individuals with unique strengths and talents are able to cooperate and build something amazing. Authentic leaders are the beacon around which their team congregates. The staff under the leader’s care are empowered to do their work with zeal and passion because their work actually means something. They are serving a purpose because they work in an environment based on authentic values.
Authentic behaviour by a company and their leaders inspire their workforce to cooperate, working closely with one another toward a common goal. This sense of camaraderie is rare among leaders, and even more rare among entire companies. When leaders are able to authentically demonstrate the purpose of action in the workplace, their employees feel it. And as the staff feel the kinship created by those who lead, they can do nothing else but spread that authentic passion to the customer. True leadership leaves a ripple effect. Authentic interactions with employees and peers inspire purpose-fueled action. Work in an authentic environment is more than a paycheck. Authentic leaders give their employees purpose, safety, and an opportunity to be fulfilled by the work that they do.
Lorna Hegarty, an Internationally Certified Master Coach, is the author of “The Seven Essential Practices of Great Leaders”. She is the President of LCH Resources Limited, a Human Resources Coaching and Consulting Organization.