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    Improving Leadership ROI through daily leadership and team development practices. Mark McCatty, Inc - Leadership & Team Advisor

    The Sound of Silence in a Culture

    by Mark McCatty, Mark McCatty, Inc. Leadership Results Through People

    Company culture represents the values that are elevated within the organization. It’s how things are done. A healthy culture is robust and full of ideas and exchanges. A healthy culture is a noisy place; Full of positive activity. This does not mean that everyone is always in agreement. It does mean that everyone knows full well where everyone else stands and that they respect the positions that others have taken even if that position differs from their own.


    The “happiest companies” [What Happy Companies Know] have warm corporate cultures, modest, sincere leaders and flexible, engaged employees. Positive companies have an invigorated company culture where there is an expectation and appreciation for true honesty. As Bill Gates says, “Bad news must travel fast.” Microsoft employees are encouraged to speak their minds even if they must deliver bad news.




    Culture Trumps Strategy

    The sound of silence can mean discord and disconnection. You know what it’s like when you walk into a room that immediately goes quiet. It is not a good sign when the breakroom buzz goes still when the manager enters. Therefore, many managers tend to shy away from employee meeting areas. They may say that they “want to give the employees their space.” This is the same management who believe that they cannot be friends with the staff; no fraternization.  They do not understand the leadership power of their ability to connect with other people.


    When there is no connection there is distrust and fear. An autocratic leader acts like they believe that they know best. This causes others to shy away from giving input. It causes cynicism and fear. I was working with a bank where such a condition existed. The staff was so fearful of management’s perceptions that they were not even comfortable giving hypothetical examples of poorly handled customer situations as training examples. They were so afraid that the leadership would misinterpret these examples as real and seek to find and punish the infractions. 

    Those That Know Need to Speak Up

    Over the years, I have surveyed thousands of managers and supervisors. I ask for their chief expectation for how their employees should interact with them. The top answers are:  don’t surprise me, tell me if there is a problem, don’t hide it; and be honest with me. Interestingly, these are the very results gained through a positive culture.


    Openness, lack of surprise, ability to resolve conflict, and productivity are all products that can be developed in a company culture. When companies follow the “Rule of 3” [The Orange Revolution] the outcome is a more productive and positive social environment.

    1.       Every individual adopts unforgettable, “world-class performance” as a model to create a “wow.”

    2.       Each team member keeps others apprised of current and upcoming activities so there are “no surprises.”

    3.       Team members praise each other’s success and “cheer” for each other.


    This “Rule of 3” environment generates greater levels of employee engagement.


    Leaders bring value when they help others add value. ~Mark McCatty

    Leadership’s Role in Creating Noise

    Top leaders and teams work to expand their competency by focusing their efforts on priorities as: “goal setting, communication, trust” and “accountability.” They readily recognize their colleagues when they do well. Research shows that when team leaders focus on the priorities and publicly acknowledge positive achievements, their teams have the best opportunity to excel.


    Confident leaders encourage respectful dissention, allow questions, learn [and help others learn] from set-backs, and they model desired behaviors.  To get employees on your side, be honest and transparent and let employees know what’s going on, good or bad. Show your trust by sharing insider knowledge. Withholding information can make folks suspicious of their leaders, and they feel less connected to the company.



    Accountability [employees’ acceptance of personal responsibility for meeting their work goals] is essential to cultural success. Increase your workers’ accountability by establishing clear expectations. Help them to succeed through there being the best at what matters most.  Keep them informed about company performance management standards. Establish systems to monitor employee progress against their goals and deadlines. Celebrate achievement whenever possible.


    No matter how accomplished or well compensated employees are, people need to feel appreciated. Show your employees that you recognize how hard and how well they work. Employees can feel more secure in their jobs and more passionate about their work when their leaders single them out for recognition. They become more productive when their colleagues are “empowered” to applaud their accomplishments.



    A positive culture can be challenging for many leaders. When you begin to engage, and empower employees they feel more comfortable to share all their ideas. Frankly, some managers just want employees to be quiet and do their job. In today’s world, we need positive cultures. This means good leaders leading good interactions and aligning people around common, purposeful jobs. Be that leader!


    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    Improving Leadership ROI


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    As a leadership and team advisor, I have helped numerous organizations, through speaker presentations, group training, and individual coaching, to meet the challenge of creating engaging and purposeful work environments. 

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