The 4 New Year’s Resolutions to Strengthen Your Company’s Leadership Culture

The champagne is popped, the ball has dropped, now make sure you’re going into 2020 with some forward-thinking goals. If building up your company’s leadership culture ranks high on your to-do list, here are some new year’s resolutions to help towards that goal.

Treat your employees like adults

Modern offices might try to sway employees with fancy perks, like beer on tap and “summer Fridays.” But the best benefit you can give your employees is to treat them like adults. Afford them autonomy, encourage them to take ownership of projects, and above all, allow them to manage their own schedule — whether that means leaving early to pick up the kids or working from home to avoid driving in a snowstorm.

“Here’s some food for thought,” our CEO Christine Tao recently said after attending a leadership seminar. “Treat your employees like adults and allow them to manage their own time. Create a culture that allows people to integrate their personal and professional lives.”

If this sounds obvious, congratulations — you’re already ahead of the pack! Some execs think “leadership” means micromanaging their employees down to the last minute. Remember, they’ve been hired for a reason; trust them to get the job done, even if that sometimes means it gets done outside of the typical 9-5 schedule. Treating your employees like adults will go a long way towards building trust, which is critical to any successful office environment.

Foster employee growth and help them set long-term goals

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Some version of this question is asked in nearly every job interview, and for good reason. Setting long-term goals is an important part of career development, and it gives employees something to work towards beyond their day-to-day duties. Realistically, though, in today’s hectic workplace, sometimes it can be hard to think past the next deadline, let alone plot out the next decade.

Good leaders should already be regularly checking in with their direct reports, so in 2020, make employee growth a standard part of these meetings. Ask your workers what they want to achieve in the new year, in the next five years, and beyond; then help them develop a plan to achieve their goals. Not only will this roadmap give your team a clearer idea of whether or not they’re hitting their targets, but research has also shown this benefits the business as a whole. As Belinda Wee, Ph.D., an associate professor at Husson University’s School of Business and Management put it, “Employees who achieve their goals enhance the success of the entire organization.”

Make sure execs are walking the talk

If you scroll through Business Insider’s list of the “Top 25 U.S. Companies With the Best Bosses,” you’ll find a lot of similar themes. Employees respond well when leadership is “approachable and inclusive,” as in the case of the top company on the list; “caring” and “trustworthy” are a couple of other oft-repeated sentiments. These are often cited as important values within businesses, but saying it and doing it are two entirely different things. If you want your employees to embrace the company culture, it has to start at the top.

This could be something as simple as “not hiding doctor and family appointments behind private calendars,” to go back to Christine’s example, or following through on a stated open-door policy. Regardless of what your company’s core values are, if executives aren’t following through, no one else will, either.

Invest in your employees

When you’re building a business, investments are key to getting things underway. The goal is simple: after a set amount of time, the return on these investments will outweigh the original buy-in, making the process worthwhile to all parties. Hiring and retaining employees also requires a level of investment, at least if you want people to stick around long-term. Employee retention is one of the key performance indicators by which you can gauge a leadership team’s effectiveness, but it’s not going to happen automatically.

There are a lot of ways to invest in your team, from more traditional benefits like health insurance and vacation time to paying for leadership coaching and educational certifications. It’s up to you to determine which initiatives best suit the business, but keep in mind that investing in the employees you have now will be less costly than losing your key talent. On top of that, investing in your team improves morale while helping leaders at all levels reach their full potential.

Much like learning a new language or playing guitar, good leadership takes practice and dedication. These resolutions will go a long way towards fostering an open, trusting, and productive work environment while allowing leaders to thrive. Happy New Year, indeed!

For more information about creating a culture of leadership and investing in your employees, contact the experts at Sounding Board.

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Lori Mazan is the Co-Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of Sounding Board, the preeminent global leadership development enterprise platform changing the face of leadership development through innovative technology for leaders at all levels of an organization. Lori is a seasoned executive coach who has guided hundreds of corporate executives through 1:1 coaching focused on business outcomes and developing critical leadership skills. Client companies advanced by Lori’s expertise include Fortune titans such as Chevron and Sprint as well as high growth and public companies like Intellikine, and Tapjoy, plus 10XGenomics, which became a public company in 2019 while top executives worked with Lori and the Sounding Board team.
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