Three Steps to Building a Powerful “We Culture”
Listening to leaders who constantly use the “Me” word and other self-centric language when communicating is demotivating. This leadership style reflects a sense of distance, disconnect, and, quite possibly, a big ego. In cases of such leadership, everyone (including the leader) tends to suffer from a variety of consequences. But one of the most obvious is the absence of a “We Culture.” According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, they reveal that only 3 in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree that in the last seven days they received recognition or praise for doing good work. Take a look at some of today’s most productive, profitable organizations and you’ll find that they are highly collaborative and have effective teamwork to achieve their organization’s vision, vital goals, and the key strategies that will inspire and drive accountability and results. But here’s the key: A “We Culture” always starts—and can only succeed with—a leader who puts the “We” ahead of the “Me.”
Here are three ways you, as a leader, can start building a powerful “We Culture”:
1. Hold everyone equally accountable, including yourself.
Whether you have an accountability system in place or use the MAP Management System™, having one will boost employee engagement. Our clients love how it’s designed to hold everyone (from the leaders to the managers to front-line staff and/or employees) equally accountable to the personal and collective goals that have been set. Accountability-based cultures are “We Cultures” in which everyone fails together or succeeds together. Everyone understands the measures for success, knows where they stand, and are held accountable to those metrics. Preferential treatment and cutting people (including yourself) slack isn’t tolerated (within reason). This keeps the playing field an even one, where people feel supported individually but just as importantly, as a team, too.
2. Use more “We” language.
Get feedback from others on how often you use “Me” language in your communications and take corrective action if necessary. For instance, next time you’re in a team meeting, have someone track how often you use “Me” versus “We” words. Also consider the success of that meeting in regard to anything discussed or proposed—could results have been better with a greater use of “We” language? I’m guessing so because although you may not get what you hope for in terms of an immediate result or a solution, this team-centric language always opens doors to greater engagement, relationships, ultimately the best ideas, and buy-in. Even if it takes time, this approach helps in connecting and gaining consensus with your people. That said, using more “We” than “Me” words isn’t foolproof, but, generally, it enables greater collaboration and a sense of both belonging and that everyone matters, which is what “We Cultures” are all about. Shoot to use “We” words 80% of the time, limiting “Me” language to 20% of the time.
3. Praise your people.
When excellent things happen within your organization, don’t take the credit. Instead, take a cue from some of the greatest leaders and deflect the attention from your role in the win, putting the spotlight on the team instead. A team that gets all the proper props and praise isn’t just a great team but one that will be inspired to do more of what’s right—and that’s every leader’s goal. Also, as your team members learn to communicate with one another in terms of the collective success, this will further contribute to that “We Culture” you’re striving to nurture. So make yourself less visible when you learn about those wins. Hard as it may be, refrain from talking up your ownership in the success when your people have worked hard to make it possible or played some role in the achievement.