Since starting my own company and no longer being an “employee” of a company, I have had a chance to reflect on the influence of leaders on company culture. 

Company culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. It is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time. My belief is that culture is directly impacted by the leaders of the company, and if not fostered with care, can lead to a negative culture that breeds fear, uncertainty and ultimately, impacts employee satisfaction, retention and revenue performance.

In my career, I’ve encountered my fair share of leaders, both good and well, not-so-good. There was always a direct correlation between the kind of leader and the resulting culture.

I believe there are five characteristics of a great leader who will foster a positive, productive and high performing culture:

1.   They love their teams. The best leaders show genuine interest in their employees. They see them as human beings.

2.   They Give praise. Giving praise shows that a leader is paying attention. They do so by recognizing even the small things. Hence, praise builds the self-esteem and loyalty of the employees.

3.   They Use their power sparingly. A culturally-minded leader has the authority to make business decisions, but she manages her power mindfully, leaving space for others to feel like they can contribute and collaborate.

4.   They Surround themselves with rock stars. Great leaders surround themselves with high-performing individuals who help grow the corporate culture which becomes a fertile ground for growth and innovation.

5.   They Share their vision. To foster a safe and trusted culture, leaders must share their vision of where they are heading. It makes employees feel safe and empowered to take risks.

Finally, as one of my favorite authors and thought leaders says in his book, Leaders Eat Last, “When we feel safe among the people with whom we work, the more likely we are to survive and thrive. That’s just the way it is.”

I encourage all leaders to take this to heart. Our company cultures depend on this!