Compliments of jarmoluk from Pixabay

Whether people appear kind, helpful, and supportive of their colleagues is a function of the rules. Collegiality at work may not surface unless it is rewarded: e.g., in laboratory studies where game rules did not require cooperation, “nice” people were viewed just as competitive and individualistic as everybody else. According to J. P. Flaum, Managing Partner of Green Peek Partners, “Culture does matter, and a culture that values people skills is a successful business culture as well, both on human and financial metrics.” A joint study with Cornell University of 72 executives concluded that bullies—those managers who were abrasive, self-focused, and overly directive—performed poorly, and that their organizations were negatively impacted as well.

People will mimic the boss’s lead. Like a virus, poor behavior can replicate throughout a firm. In “Diversity Management: A New Organizational Paradigm,” my coauthors and I discuss how culture is trickle-down. The CEO sets the tone, which impacts how HR crafts appraisal and what is rewarded, who is promoted, and what policies are set in place. Whether nice people finish first may not then be a question of personality—unless of course, you’re the CEO who is ultimately calling the shots. Research discovered that CEOs with strong character (those who were empathetic, forgiving, responsible, and honest) led companies with an average ROA that was five times higher than those who lacked basic character traits, according to KRW International. These findings imply that leaders are the linchpin in setting a tone that determines practice, and ultimately profit. If an organization wishes to become “inclusive,” if it wants to excel in respecting, valuing, and appreciating its diverse employees, then it needs to hire executives with this objective in mind. A leadership style that is democratic, personally reflective, and considerate and compassionate, may be the most effective in making people feel valued.

According to research on executive interpersonal skills,“The most important step that boards and investors can take is to become more aware of the culture of the companies they own and run.”

If a cultural audit reveals that employees feel isolated, psychologically distant and unattached, then a look at the top is the first place to begin.


Share |

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

Comments are moderated.

Comments are closed.