The Price Of Culture

Do you want your costs to go decrease, then you must increase your trust, strengthen your relationships and increase your influence with your people.

Since I was 16 years old and I started my first ever job as a mechanical engineering apprentice in 1999, all the way through to today, I have worked in different industries. I have also worked in different countries with different cultures and different people.

During these times I have learned a lot about engineering, but most of all I learned about leadership and people. Since I took my first leadership role in 2009, I have worked on myself every day and learned something about leadership.

1. The Importance Of A Team

Being part of a team, I learned that all I wanted was a leader who cared for me and my teammates. Being in charge of a team, I learned that all I wanted were team members who cared for each other.

There were too many occasions when I would be the leader of a team, but I was very unhappy. The reason for that was because my team members were not doing what they were told. In other words, I was telling them what to do without considering any of their input, and they didn’t like it so they disengaged.

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In the end, one or two members of this particular team left because they were unhappy. At the time I thought it was because they didn’t like the job, but now I know for certain it was because of me.

Having an engaged team that wants to work for each other, which includes the leader is how productivity and results increase. When productivity and results increase, we have a positive team, we have a positive organisation, and we have happy leaders.

If we don’t have increased productivity, results and a positive organisation then the leaders are unhappy, and they will then face serious problems.

With unhappy leaders, their level of engagement with the organisation and with each other will decrease. Then, inevitably as the leader’s engagement decreases, the team’s engagement below will also decrease.

What I have found is that team members are far more productive when they want to follow their leader. They are far less productive if they have to follow their leader. I know that there has been research done on this issue and found the same outcome.

There are far too many leaders who manage people and don’t lead people. If there were the right leadership development in place for all leaders within the organisation then teamwork, morale, productivity, customer service, engagement and employee turnover would all be improved.

2. Leadership Development

The right leadership development would also include focussing on the non-leaders too. If we want to develop our people into leaders, then we need to develop them before they take up the position of leader.

When leaders lead their people, they are far more engaged and want to be part of the team and the organisation.

When leaders manage their people, they become far more dis-engaged and will only give the bare minimum required to get the job done and make it until the end of the day.

To transform the culture of your team and your organisation, then leadership development is the foundation to build that transformation on. When transforming the culture, we are also reducing costs to the organisation and improving your team’s results.

Within your industry, do you find that there are other businesses who want to steal your people aswell as stealing your customers? Having worked in the rail industry since 2005, I have seen this happen a lot more.

When working as part of a consultancy and doing work with the London Company, they “stole” a few of my project team members. It wasn’t a nice feeling to think that we were not giving them what they wanted/needed, so they went elsewhere.

If you have team members that are not happy then they are going to be disengaged, and if we can’t make them happier and more engaged then they are going to leave and find another job.

I know people who have even found a different industry because they were so unhappy. For the organisation to be successful, then it is the leader’s role to attract and retain people who are happy and high performers.

Leadership development is how we will help our people to be happier. By helping our people to become happy to work for the organisation and for our team, it will prevent them from leaving. With a happy team and reduction in turnover, the organisation will see improvements in results.

3. Being Part Of An Organisation

Highly effective leaders want to be part of an organisation that people want to join. They want to be part of a highly effective organisation and highly effective team. Highly effective organisations and teams are the leaders of their industry. All highly effective leaders are leaders in their industry, not just their organisation.

Team members of a highly effective organisation are not looking for a highly paid job, they are looking for opportunities grow and develop. They want to become successful in both their personal and professional lives.

With leadership development opportunities before they actually take up a leadership role can only be beneficial to the team member, the leader, the team and the organisation. That is how we create a highly effective organisation.

Generally when managers interview new team members, they focus on their abilities to perform the job. They want to know what knowledge they have and if they have the required skills that meet the job description. The interviews are 100% competency based and that is how they fill their vacancies within the team.

When it comes to firing a member of the team, managers focus on a completely different area. They focus on the person’s character. Usually, when people are fired it’s because they are behaving in a way that is disrupting the performance of the team.

4. Character Development

Or, they are not fulfilling their duties as a member of the team and results are being affected. Or, they have a poor attitude towards the team and the leader and they are unbearable to work with. These are all character based and are the main reasons why a person would be fired.

In most organisations throughout the world, their training and development programs are focussed mainly on improving competency and not character. However, when a person has performance issues it mainly due to their character, not their competency.

In fact, most of our results as an organisation, a team and as an individual are down to our character, not our competency. But, when we hire people, we hire them because of what they know (competency) and we fire them for who they are (character).

At the moment within your team, are your people happy? Do they come into work every morning feeling fully engaged and ready to give 100% of their best for the day?

If they are not and your team are feeling worried, confused, frustrated and resistant towards you or the organisation, then I want to let you know that you can do something about it. It doesn’t have to be and won’t be like that forever. You can change this and I believe you will change it.

If you focus on the numbers, costs, business growth, bottom line and organisational performance then you are neglecting your people. If you focus on your people then the numbers, costs, business growth, bottom line and organisational performance will take care of themselves. Where is your focus?

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

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All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

32 thoughts on “The Price Of Culture

  1. Thank you for a great article. You have highlighted some points that i was not even aware of when it comes to leadership which have really been helpful to others i have seen succeed and be top leaders.

    Since I am a leader is many parts of my life I would be implementing all of these in my daily life.

    1. Hi Thabo,

      Thank you for your comment. It is my pleasure to share these articles and it makes it all worth while when people comment.

      I hope you do implement the leadership principles that I share and if you need any help with them, then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Hey, Tom. Thanks for sharing. You’ve said it all with the last bold sentence. Sometimes, it’s good to focus on numbers for a short while just to see where you’re standing with your business and what technical parts of it you can possibly improve. However, the majority of focus should be on the people that come to your business. As you said, when you focus on them, your numbers will increase as well.

    I’m continuously trying to improve my leadership skills and understand what my people need to most and then provide the same. This way, I get to know them better and help them to move forward as well.

    In any case, I enjoyed your post here. As always, thanks for sharing and keep up the good work! Have a great one.

    1. Hey Ivan,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found this article valuable.

      Focussing on the people, everything else will take care of itself is what I believe. Like my vision and just cause says “I can see a world in which our leaders create environments that focusses on people and helps them to learn to lead, grow, and increase their influence for the good of us.”

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. It is interesting to see that people are hired for their competency but are fired for character flaws. I saw it at my workplace. In my school. There was a 6th grade teacher who was brilliant, creative, and engaging. Students loved him. However, he had a temper and several times he lost his temper with his direct supervisor. After the last angry outburst he was fired.

    I agree that some team leaders manage and others lead. The ones who manage will not hold the team together. I am one of those people who will leave if I’m not happy at a certain workplace. Having a good team and a caring team leader is important. It makes all the difference for the people who work there and ultimately for the product or project they are creating.

    1. Hi Christine,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad that you found this article interesting.

      I found it really interesting that people are hired for competency and fired for character. Then when it came for me to fire someone, I realised that they were fired because of their character. I felt guilty that I hadn’t tried to help them develop their character, but I learned from that and character development is a priority now.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. I also found your comment interesting and spot-on: “we hire people because of what they know (competency) and we fire them for who they are (character). It seems that more importance should be placed on character when deciding who to hire?

    By putting our focus on the team members and ensuring that they are happy with their employment situation, we will automatically create a more productive work environment….. This is the way to ensure that a business remains relevant and successful.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m pleased that you found the article spot on and interesting.

      I couldn’t agree with you more that we should be hiring people for their character instead of solely on competency. We can teach people the job quite quickly, but we need to spend more time when helping people to develop their character. When we help people with their character development, we are actually helping them with their leadership.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

      1. I have to agree, that anyone with intelligence can learn any skill to complete just about any job that is required of them.

        However, character development is a whole different story.

        Work skills can be learned relatively quickly, maybe in minutes, hours, days, or weeks. But character development can be ongoing and if we are serious about ‘improving’ ourselves, it will continue for the rest of our lifetime.

        This is not something to be seen as a negative, but something to be embraced wholeheartedly, because as we grow ourselves, we are the ones that benefit the most. The positive spinoff is that our families, friends, and everyone else we associate with in our work, sporting, and social environments will also benefit.

        There is no downside in the quest to become a better person. Everything that we become involved with, whether it be a work project, a sporting team, or just a family gathering, will benefit. Others will look up to us and will hopefully be inspired to better themselves as a result.

        Thanks, once again, for sharing, Tom
        Have a great day 🙂

        1. Hi Andrew,

          Thank you for your reply. I appreciate you taking the time to do that, it means a lot to me.

          You are absolutely right, character development is completely different to competency development. It takes more time and the work it takes is a lot harder. But, it is absolutely essential if we want to strengthen our character and become better leaders for our people.

          Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

          All the best,

          Tom

  5. Thank you for your article! I think you are right in what you say.

    Undoubtedly, a leader needs, in addition to professional skills, good social skills to connect and empathize with the people he/she manages. Personally, I believe that a leader is a person who has authority, and this authority is not gained exclusively by imposing tasks or giving orders, but also by caring about people, leading with respect, taking into account people over numbers.

    At the end of the day, the success of a company depends ultimately on the efficiency of its workers and it has been proven that working happily and in a good working environment is much better.

    1. Hi Marta,

      Thank you for your comment and it is my pleasure to share this article. I am pleased that you have found it valuable.

      A leader does have authority and power, but it is so important how they use that authority and power. The best leaders give their power away, and that is exactly what empowering people is. A lot of people don’t believe that empowering is about giving your power away, but it is.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Hi Tom
    I found your post interesting, and I totally agree that team members need to care for each other. When we care, we also help build character in others.

    I have worked in many places where people just come to work, do their job and don’t give a damn about helping and supporting their team members.

    Great Post

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found my article interesting, makes it all worthwhile.

      I can relate to you and the places you have worked where people don’t care and just want to get their job finished and go home. It’s sad, but it’s reality and I am hoping I can help make a difference in that.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Sometimes a person can do things out of character and get fired. Quite often they are normally a valued employee who has been with the organisation or company for many years.

    When an employee joins any business, it’s up to management to help mould them into the character that the organisation wants to project.

    Employers and managers often do not take the time to get to know the staff, expectations are high, and they don’t care if a person is struggling to move forward.

    Great article that I enjoyed reading.

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you enjoyed reading this article, means a lot to me.

      I agree, when we take on new employees, we must help them build and strengthen their character. Obviously we can’t do it for them, but we must help them. Not many organisations do this at the moment but I am on a mission to help change that.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. “In fact, most of our results as an organisation, a team and as an individual are down to our character, not our competency. But, when we hire people, we hire them because of what they know (competency) and we fire them for who they are (character).”

    That statement hit me hard. I keep rereading it. That is so true.

    Some careers do have personality tests as well as the competency part but in my opinion that can only do so much. I wonder how this will be dealt with in the future?

    1. Hi Brianna,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found this article valuable, and I’m glad that it made you think a bit differently.

      It is true that we hire for competency and fire for character. We need to help our people build and strengthen their character so that they can become better leaders. We all have the ability to influence and so therefore we all have the ability to lead, it is important that we work on and practice those abilities.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. Fabulous article Tom. The line “Being part of a team, I learned that all I wanted was a leader who cared for me and my teammates” is the real truth of belonging to a group or organization, and that gives us the specific quality that a leader must have too.
    I come away from your articles more educated every time. Thank u.
    Regards,
    Aparna

    1. Hi Aparna,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found this a fabulous article, makes it all worthwhile.

      Being part of a team is so important, and the feeling of belonging and being involved. When we are involved we learn so much more than just being taught or shown.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. I was also a mechanic & this article remember me of when I was working as a mechanic for a company in my city. The person who was our leader wasn’t a good one. I and the workers weren’t feeling motivated to work harder.

    As you say it is important to focus on the peoples/ clients.
    This is a great article and you share really good information right here. I did subscribe to your youtube channel and also for your book.

    Really great keep it up

    venche

    1. Hi Venche,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that you found this a great article.

      I appreciate you sharing your experiences as a mechanic and the leader that you had. I can definitely relate and there will be lots more people who read this who will be able to relate to you.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  11. Hi Tom,
    A very useful text that every leader should read. I like the statement that the success of a team depends on its competencies and character. The second one is especially important. In our team we have a boss with knowledge and experience, but the situation in the team is catastrophic and the job is not done. I realized that the problem was in the character and behavior of the leader himself. Workers should be shown respect and a pleasant approach while respecting their opinions. There is no such thing and then it is reflected in the work. No matter how competent someone is, he will never be a real leader if he does not have a good character. You have great advices and your E-book “Increase Your Influence” is impressive. I would like that your texts on leadership development reach as many leaders as possible in order to be successful and respected.
    Continue an amazing work!
    All the best,
    Danijela

    1. Hi Danijela,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you found the article useful.

      I agree with you that competencies and character are both important to develop as an individual and a team. Leaders focussing on their character development is more important as it will focus on their leadership development and make them better leaders for their people. Keep developing your own character Danijela.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  12. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for sharing this – the cost of culture (or lack thereof) is something that I actually deal with regularly!

    People often think of it purely from the cost of employee dissatisfaction (and when you put a value on the cost of not retaining employees it is actually pretty shocking when you do the maths).

    In light of the above, it seems incredibly short-sighted that more businesses don’t encourage leadership skill development.

    What advice do you give to those new to leadership who need to convince their management to invest in their team and leadership development?

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for your comment and it is my pleasure to share this article. I am really pleased that you found this article valuable.

      To gain buy-in from the leadership team, you need to lead them. Lead your leaders with open questions. Challenge yourself to only ever answer questions with an open question. It is difficult, but just wait to see the difference in how your leaders are thinking and behaving. When asking these questions, they will come to the same conclusion as you when it comes to leadership development.

      Thank you for the question.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  13. Thank you for a brilliant post. I am particularly impressed by the fact that people are not looking for the highest-paying jobs, but where there is growth and development. I agree good, effective leadership can create such an environment

    1. Hi Solomon,

      Thank you for your comment. Its great that you have found this article valuable.

      Creating the right environment for our people that helps them to learn, grow and increase their influence is what highly effective leadership is.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  14. Hi Tom!

    That sounds like a pretty intense job to start at just 16!

    I really like that you mention that there’s a difference between managing a team and leading a team. I’m really big on wording and never thought about how those two words could have an effect on your mindset as a manager. Because your team will not thrive from being controlled, but they will thrive from being led.

    I left my last job because of management that didn’t lead. They thought they were, but there was no room for growth when I was told that they were looking for someone who wanted to learn and grow. They claimed to have wanted us to have entrepreneurship characteristics within our job duties, but controlled every aspect of what we did and never created room for our creativity.

    I stayed for 3 years, which was a shame on me because I only stayed for the decent pay check. I hope other leaders come across your posts because there’s a lot they could learn from you!

    1. Hi Haley,

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you mentioning that other leaders could learn from me, that means a lot and is what I want to happen every day.

      Yes, my job was pretty intense when I was 16 but I wouldn’t change it. It made me who I am and I have learned from my own and my supervisor’s mistakes. Teams most certainly thrive from being led, not by being controlled. Couldn’t agree with you more.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  15. Thank you Tom for outlining these important points. I honestly could not agree less that leadership development is how you help members of your team be happier with what they do. When someone is happy the person is more competent and puts in more work and works diligently. If they aren’t happy they are definitely finding another job and quitting their current job that is making them unhappy. If more organizations are able to focus also on characters like they do on competency it will really go a long way to help their organisations and their team members grow as well. This article has been helpful . Keep up the good work

    1. Hi Femi,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m pleased that you found this article helpful.

      I agree, focussing on our character development more than our competency development is how we are going to create more leaders within our organisations. We need to develop from within rather than always looking outside for our new leaders.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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