In 2011 my world changed when I lost my husband and became a widow at just 31 years of age. Not only my husband, but also my business partner, naturally I took some time out. I returned after only a short break as I realised staff were worried about the future. My team was afraid of how secure their jobs and the company were. They needed a leader to not just assure them that things would be okay, but to drive how we were all going to be moving forward. I decided at that moment that our culture and attitude would feed from the top. It was up to me to decide to be positive, to be ambitious and adventurous — to not be afraid and to be goal-orientated.
Most importantly, we decided to be a “YES” business.
This very simple philosophy quickly grew opportunities for progression and expansion. We saw that many opportunities were missed by human nature’s first reaction being “no.” So we changed our culture and from then on, our first reaction has always been “yes.” There is always talk about “culture” and “employee engagement” and a lot of similar buzzwords used in business. Some organisations spend thousands of dollars hiring consultants to review culture, engagement and happiness and put forward plans for improving them.
However, I’ve found that the most effective way to change a company’s culture is to change whatever and whomever is at the top. Whoever is running your organisation sets the tone. That feeds through to management and then through to staff. It impacts your employment brand, your staff engagement and the longevity of employees. It feeds how hard people work, what their attitude is to change and how much they want to apply themselves. If you have an issue with staff engagement, look up the food chain.
Several studies have demonstrated employees tend to quit because of their boss. Money isn’t often the main reason. So it’s time to take a look at yourself and wonder if you are being the best leader for your employees. Give them a reason to invest in you.
As people say, a leader isn’t the same as a boss. I believe in leading with a positive attitude, and this has helped make our businesses successful. Whatever leadership style you choose for yourself and your business, be aware it will have an impact all the way through the ranks.
It’s up to you to make your business a great place to work.
Sharon Davies, Founder and Managing Director, Talent Propeller