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

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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

Co-Founder & Chief Coaching Officer

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.
Lori has spent the last 25 years coaching C-Suite executives to leadership excellence. Many of those public and private company CEO’s expressed that they would have liked this caliber of coaching earlier in their careers. Inspired by these experiences, Lori joined with Christine to launch Sounding Board as a feedback-driven, cloud-based leadership coaching platform that could maintain best-in-class leadership coaching while lowering costs to make it affordable and scalable for leaders at every level of their careers.
Before founding Sounding Board, Lori received her Masters’ in Adult Educational Psychology/Counseling from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors’ in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Lori is an educator and has spent over 10 years as a professor of social psychology and group dynamics while acting as the interim Dean of Students at Holy Names University, She is certified by the industry’s gold standard, the Coaches Training Institute, and is a founding member of the Genentech Preferred Network of Coaches. Sounding Board is one of <3% of sole female founded startups receiving venture funding. In 2019 Sounding Board was selected as 1 of 7 startups (out of 100+ applicants) as part of SAP’s HR tech cohort, a group that represents the rising stars of the next-gen HR ecosystem.

Christine Tao

Co-Founder & CEO Sounding Board, Inc.

Christine Tao is the co-founder & CEO at Sounding Board, a Silicon Valley startup redefining how organizations are developing their leaders. Her extraordinarily rapid career growth to executive management in the media, mobile and tech sectors of Silicon Valley became her inspiration for founding Sounding Board. As she began to manage larger teams and be responsible for growing revenues, it became clear that she needed a “sounding board” to coach her on the development of her leadership skills. That’s where her Sounding Board co-founder, Lori Mazan came on the scene. A seasoned executive coach focused on leadership development, Lori coached Christine on real-world leadership skills that had a direct impact on business outcomes. Based on her positive and impactful experience with leadership development, Christine was driven to make leadership development coaching accessible to people at all levels of the organization.
Christine advises several startups, is a budding angel investor and is also a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, a foundation dedicated to investing in the success and sustainability of women entrepreneurs.
Prior to co-founding Sounding Board, Christine was a Senior Vice President of Developer Relations at Tapjoy, a venture-backed, leading mobile advertising & publishing network. She led the growth of Tapjoy’s publisher advertising business from 0 to over $100 million in revenues in less than 3 years. Prior to that she led e-commerce partnerships and strategy at YouTube. Christine holds an MBA in Marketing & Operations from Wharton and a BA in Business Administration from UC Berkeley.

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