Transcendent leaders assist us in seeing organizations as mechanisms that link purpose with meaning. They harness the complex and often unconscious matrix of beliefs, values and attitudes to co-create a caring culture. As a result, these leaders enhance the organization’s capacity for working together and producing amazing results.
Culture impacts employee engagement, which in turn influences retention and productivity. Caring within an organization builds interpersonal connections, which nourish engagement. A caring culture also ensures leaders, employees and customers know a company’s purpose.
Culture isn’t just a component of a company — it’s the heartbeat of the company. Cocreating a caring culture is best done by everyone within that culture. Accumulated wisdom within provides guidance to ensure that beliefs, values and attitudes link together and support the company’s purpose. Cocreation is about ensuring employees are part of authoring experiences that keep a company vital. Caring cultures are about how you treat everyone in your company’s ecosystem: employees, management, leaders, customers and yourself.
What do you and your people love about their jobs? What keeps you and them eager and engaged? An authentic, open discussion with employees can help reveal if there are disconnects within the company culture. Leverage their answers to magnify individual work experiences by encouraging employees to explore their passions while remaining true to the company’s purpose.
The four critical parts of creating a caring culture include awareness, attunement, alignment and action.
Unpacking the different layers and nuances of a company’s culture requires awareness. Using self-inquiry and becoming aware who you are, what you do and how you do it is a critical first step. Facilitating awareness of others in the company helps them understand why things are done they way they are done. It also opens the opportunity to capture the wisdom to see how things might be done differently to provide greater caring.
Awareness is built through the everyday actions of all parties. This is more than banners and slogans posted on the walls. People want to see others living the beliefs, values and attitudes on a moment-by-moment basis.
Cultural attunement represents the dynamic nature of actively sensing the subtle rhythms that make up the company’s culture. Attunement involves constant communication, sensitivity to the harmonies of relationships within the culture and respect for each individual’s values and beliefs. It comes from a position of leadership humbleness and represents active attention and ongoing awareness.
Regular discussions between employees, management and executives provide time for questions that clarify how the culture is being put into practice.
Building a caring culture requires alignment with what each person believes, what he or she does and how he or she does it. If you’ve successfully built awareness about the culture, and everyone is attuned to the purpose of the company, there is a much greater chance of full engagement.
Support is important to ensure that people who are tone deaf to the desired culture have an opportunity to shift perspectives. There are times where the company culture and an individual’s beliefs, values and attitudes are so out of alignment that the best decision is to help the individual find a position with a different company where he or she would have better alignment with who they are.
Stories about how individuals within the organization have taken action to care for others provide additional cultural guidance. Sharing these stories can be done internally or externally. Stories need to be shared widely with customers, employees and others.
One company we work with communicates caring stories directly with the spouse or significant other of each employee, manager or leader. If stories of a caring culture are put into action regardless of the environment, then you’ve provided awareness, which enhances attunement and ensures alignment.
As Theodore Roosevelt is credited with saying, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Put care into your company’s culture and the people will take care of the company.