Looking around the political, business and even sports scenes, there seem to be a number of very toxic situations at a leadership level. The British labour party has people ripping each other apart; neither the Republican nor Democratic parties in the US love their presidential candidates; Sports Direct is apparently not a happy place to work, and the role of England Football Manager is once again proving a poisonous challis.
The consequence of such toxicity is most likely a negative impact an organisation’s climate i.e. what it feels like to work there. Where there are tensions amongst an organisation’s leadership, those tensions are visible. As a simple analogy, if there is someone that is argumentative, bored, fed up, or angry in the room with you, it is hard for others in the room to feel positive.
The importance of this is that climate will have a knock-on effect on organisational culture, and culture is a key determinant of the way employees behave between themselves as well as with people outside the organisation. It is a critical factor in achieving organisational goals, in attracting and keeping desirable employees, creating a positive public image, and building respectful relationships with stakeholder. In other words, it is a crucial element of business success.
A negative climate will discourage people from being affable, cooperative, accepting of others, and so on. After a while, this will affect assumptions about what is acceptable behaviour, the stories and rituals and other key elements that help determine and support culture.
As a leader, we must ask ourselves how we affect the climate of our places of work. If we are not enthusiastic about our business, how can we expect others to be when representing it? If we are intolerant of mistakes, how can we expect others to use them as learning opportunities and avoid a ‘blame culture’? If we make decisions without consulting others, how can we expect them to work well together as a team?
Organisational climate does not develop by accident, it is significantly influenced by an organisation’s leadership. Beware your moods and actions.