Have you ever heard someone share a story about how toxic their work environment was or even worse – lived it?  

What creates a toxic workplace?  Simply put, when leaders stop caring, things go bad.  Being a great leader is not the same as being a perfect leader. Leadership is a process of growth.  There are days when you will flop, fail and doubt your abilities.  However, I want to offer some encouragement.  Leadership doesn’t have to be complicated.  Take it one step at a time.

The big question right now is how to lead during a pandemic?  The ideas I am going to share with you are pandemic proof – they work no matter what is happening in the world.  But, remember, they only work if you put them to work.  You can’t just talk about these ideas, you absolutely have to give the ideas life through action.  

I am a believer in positive workplace cultures.  I believe creating an environment in-person or virtual that empowers people to be their best.  When people are at their best, there is a feeling of purpose, engagement and fulfillment.  From my own experience, I remember years ago, working for a company that was toxic.  And that is an understatement.  It was so toxic, I would get sick on the commute to work.  Everyone looked out for themselves and to say the least, it was stressful and unhealthy.  Instead of embracing the day, your mission was to just make it through the day.  The bottom line:  not good!

However, not long after departing that job, I found myself working for a company that cared about their people. They believed that a team gets better when the people on the team get better.  They were friendly and treated each other with respect.  It felt like a family.   But, I picked up on something.  I noticed that the leaders encouraged everyone to lead.  They were very consistent about demonstrating the following elements daily.   Notice, I said daily, not just once in a while or when they felt like it – daily.  They also didn’t sit around talking about these elements of culture success, they put them into action.  What was the impact for me?   I didn’t know it was possible to look forward to going to work and feeling happy at the end of the day.  Yet, it is possible  It becomes more possible when people care more.

Here are the very simple components that great leaders implement daily to create a more engaging, enthusiastic and excellent workplace culture. 

1: Value – Make others feel valued and recognized.
2: Growth – Ensure people are growing, developing and learning. 
3: Purpose – Reinforce vision so the work is more than a paycheck – it’s an opportunity. 
4: Wellness – Ensure people are safe both mentally and physically.  
5: Motivation – Don’t just give an assignment, but partner it with purpose and inspiration it is done with excellence and enthusiasm. Inspiration isn’t meant to be a distraction, but rather a tool to fuel us to think our best, give our best, and achieve our best.

These probably sound very familiar, but what is common is not always commonly practiced with consistency.  Am I right?  We need simple reminders of what cultivates a positive workplace culture – even when everyone may be working remotely.   These 5 components of leadership greatness will never go out of style and they will always work.  Are there more we could add to that list?  Absolutely.  I would encourage you to jot those additional components down.  Make a list and keep it where you can see it daily.  I encourage this because many times, out of site becomes out of mind.  Keep your list of leadership greatness in front of you and read it daily.  Work from it.  Allow it to empower, bring out the best in others and enrich the lives of others.  Because isn’t that what great leaders do?

Until next time, keep looking up!
Sam Glenn, The Attitude Guy 


Photo by Jehyun Sung