Should Leaders Wear Their Hearts On Their Sleeves?

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Most readers of Data Point Tuesday know that I’m focused these days on the intersection of culture, organization performance and humanity in the workplace. Deloitte’s new culture change solution unit, CulturePath, has just published a white paper that has an interesting spin on culture, organization performance and employee emotion. This statement in the executive summary of Take your corporate culture off cruise control; Power up the emotive engine in your workplace, really caught my eye:

“A variety of forces are coming together to make cultural alignment a priority for most companies… By getting deeper into how cultures work, and by pushing the emotional connections, companies can actively manage their culture to drive critical business outcomes.”

I believe “emotional connections” is another way of describing humanity. So I read the rest of the report with interest.

Deloitte reports (through its annual Human Capital Trends report) that 87% of executives cite “culture and engagement,” the highest of all HR-related challenges, as one of their top challenges – with a full 50% describing the challenge as very important. This is stunning. Whether or not 87% of executives are expressing their concern about their organization’s culture and the state of employee engagement in that organization is beside the point. Culture is becoming more than strategy’s breakfast. It’s becoming a context within which leaders are beginning to pay attention to human beings rather than skillsets. And this new report gives some insight into just why execs are paying to attention to emotion and humanity.

The section, “Putting emotion in the culture equation” is another attempt by consultants and researchers to emphasize the value of the Deloitte CulturePath 1human. The value of the heart. We need this. Deloitte’s particular push, aligning culture with business strategy, seems the right way to go and suggests that there are three primary avenues to make emotional connections with talent:

 

  • Higher purpose – pride in the mission helps lead to commitment to the organization as a whole
  • Examples from the top – the stories and actions from leaders at the top have power much greater than any “program” communication
  • Participation – by linking the deeds of individuals at every level to larger goals, meaning can be generated across the organization. If every action is linked to the higher purpose, talent will generally be more committed.

It’s becoming more and more clear that connecting emotionally to employees through their humanity is a winning approach to innovation, productivity, competitiveness, and top- and bottom-line growth. Leaders who focus on building their trustworthiness, accessibility and comfort with transparency are far more likely to appear human and to relate more effectively with the humans in their workforce. Turns out, emotions are a good thing. And wearing your heart on your sleeve just might make you a better leader – and improve your organization’s performance.

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Filed under China Gorman, Company Culture, Culture, CulturePath, Data Point Tuesday, Deloitte

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