There are so many resources around good company leadership, but how do we know which resources are innovative, providing us with a structure to really impact our company? The real question I have begun to ask myself when reading leadership content is “Does this content have an impact on the company as a direct result of the change of the individual?” To me, true leadership material should not only impact the leader, but impact the relationships he/she has, the business they work for and the lives they encounter.
Let’s delve into this in more detail.
How Can leadership inspire the culture of a company?
To start with, I think we should look at the way effective leadership can affect a business and its people. Because of poor “leadership” in the past, offered by people with an ego and a “boss complex”, we have a warped view of effective leadership. That is why there is so much content available at the moment on the topic. There are influencers and leaders out there who want to try and change the status quo of the dictatorship style leader, and bring in a more lifestyle leadership pattern. Lifestyle leadership is becoming a buzzword, and rightly so. A leader should have an impact on the lifestyle of his or her people/company. The lifestyle leader enables its followers to be more confident, make decisions from their own initiative and grow to a higher level than said leader. This ultimately has a lifestyle impact because these sorts of changes in individual behaviour should spill out into personal life, meaning people take a more confident approach to life and everything it throws at them. A passion is stirred up amongst people who sit under effective leadership to strive towards a greater, but common, goal. This means that companies are having to change their out of date processes and procedures to encourage the lifestyle company that this new brand of leaders helping to cultivate.
Lifestyle leaders typically create lifestyle companies.
So, what is a lifestyle company? Many people describe a lifestyle company in various different ways. As it is a relatively new term, it is hard to pinpoint a sure definition of what it actually is. My understanding of a lifestyle company is this;
A company with flexibility that enables its staff to achieve and grow within an environment that is employee focused and understanding, allowing for growth of the individual and drive to deliver company objectives with a sense of ownership and contribution to the greater vision of the organisation, team, or group they work within.
In a nutshell, the company allows an environment of self-development, with the aid of effective leadership to achieve the greater company goals. This only works when the leadership team have a unified vision of what it is to be a leader and how their actions and behaviours will impact the staff they are trying to lead. Although this style of company has been criticized by those from an ROI perspective, most companies thrive because they believe this flexibility and freedom will inspire the right people to aim for the sky for their respected companies. They pay attention to effective leadership and are within their means to deal with the outcome of lifestyle leadership.
We have looked at the basic ways a lifestyle leader can produce lifestyle changes, we have looked at what that means for companies who may have to change their approach to this relatively new form of leadership.
The next question is this, how do I become a lifestyle leader?
The answer to this question is simple. Invest in people for who they are. Learn more about the people you want to lead, discover their individual circumstances, and what they wake up for in the morning. Do they want to make their sons football games every week? Do they want to use the experience your company offers for them to start their own business? All of these may frighten you as you may be thinking, “I can’t afford to let John off every Friday afternoon to see his sons game, there is client work to be done” or, “Jen is just using us as a platform to grow her own empire”, and you are well within reason to think like this, but what if you give these people the freedom to do the things they want? You might actually find that with the right leadership, they will reward you for rewarding them. John will work harder throughout the week in fear of disappointing, not only his clients, but his son. Jen will work harder because she can see the investment you are putting into her and the skills you are training her with. She will grow into an asset that one day may be able to benefit you from the business she has started, and you could work together from a position of trust in the future.
By working with people to help them achieve their goals, you in turn create a workforce that enjoys working for you, is open to new responsibility, are more honest with time and resource, ultimately leading to employees buying into the company vision quicker, easier, and with a fuller heart.
This is how major companies are changing their leadership style, this is how we have adapted our leadership style, and therefore we recommend you consider it in more detail. The benefits are there to be had by both company and individual.
So, to answer our initial question “Can leadership inspire the culture of a company?” the answer is, if it doesn’t, is it really leadership?