In many company structures, employees strive for individual success without caring about what they must do to achieve it — whether that’s throwing another co-worker under the bus, making decisions with self-serving interests in mind, or going against their own beliefs.
In any scenario, this type of behavior is infectious. And before you know it, your company culture is terminally ill.
But when employees have the chance to work alongside a thought leader, they’re motivated to go above and beyond their daily responsibilities and expectations — not because they’re asked to, but because they’re fully invested in the company’s success.
Eighty-six percent of business and HR leaders believe they don’t have a good leadership development path in place. But by positioning yourself and other key employees as thought leaders, you can set the bar high for the entire company and reinforce the pre-established company culture.
The most amazing thing about this approach? Seeing employees rise to the occasion.
The most successful leaders empower employees by allowing them to set their own schedules and take ownership of their roles. And when employees have freedom in the workplace, they feel valued. As a result, they’re more engaged, help attract and recruit top talent by showcasing the company as a great place to work, and are ultimately happier to be a part of the company.
Putting employees’ development first can also improve retention and set the tone for innovation. Considering that 88 percent of employees aren’t passionate about their work, giving them creative freedom could seriously set your company apart.
Just consider the culture Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, has built based on the company’s “committable” core values. It all starts with the hiring process.
According to Hsieh, Zappos puts all new employees through the same four-week training process as call center representatives because one of the company’s 10 core values is “Deliver WOW Through Service” — and that starts with the call center. After the first week, he offers new employees $2,000 to quit in order to weed out those who are simply looking for a paycheck.
As he wrote in “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose”: “We want employees that believe in our long-term vision and want to be a part of our culture. As it turns out, on average, less than 1 percent of people end up taking the offer. … At the end of the day, just remember that if you get culture right, most of the other stuff — including building a great brand — will fall into place on its own.”
Company culture is a product of your employees and the expectations you set. And thought leadership content can help you cultivate a healthy culture from the top down.
When your company’s leaders consistently publish thought leadership content on your blog and in external publications, they’re not only helping fuel the sales cycle, but also optimizing the hiring process and solidifying the culture they’ve created.
At Influence & Co., our company leaders contribute content to multiple external publications every month, and we publish blog posts on our Knowledge Bank blog three times a week. As we interview candidates for open positions, the ones who walk into the interview after reading a handful of those articles end up being more engaged from the beginning of the process.
It’s like lead nurturing: They get a sense of our leaders’ personalities, how our company differentiates itself, and our cultural expectations. They also have the chance to jump-start the training process by learning about our industry. Warming up with our company content streamlines the onboarding process and sets applicants up for success right off the bat.
By taking the lead or encouraging other company leaders to contribute content, you’re bringing in new leads and positioning your company as an influencer in your space. And when you’re working to attract top talent, you need to impress candidates just as much as they need to win you over.
When company leaders become recognized influencers through thought leadership content, you attract motivated, talented employees and empower your team members to be your best brand advocates. If you inspire them to work toward company-focused goals and offer creative freedom, you’ll set up your organization for long-term success in more ways than one.