Whether leading a business, non-profit organization, school, church, or any other organization, leaders are responsible for the quality of the work environment. They can either create an environment that is healthy—one where people trust one another and work together to achieve a common goal. Or, they can allow the environment to become toxic—full of mistrust, lack of cooperation, competing agendas, and very low morale. In toxic environments, people are diminished, discouraged, and often driven away from the organization because of the unhealthy atmosphere that exists.
Author Patrick Lencioni talks about the concept of organizational health in his book The Advantage, and he asserts that when organizations of all types embrace the idea of becoming a healthy organization, they flourish and find true success. I couldn’t agree more. Yet, as Lencioni suggests, too many leaders allow their organizations to become characterized by unhealthy work environments and, unfortunately, they do not take action to correct this problem.
Great leaders are intentional about the type of environment they create within their organization or team, choosing to cultivate healthy cultures that bring out the best in people and build them up. So, exactly how do leaders foster organizational health? There are four key components that they focus on developing: trust, transparency, accountability, and unity.
Trust: team members and leaders at all levels must learn to trust one another, knowing that each person cares for one another and has the best interests of others at heart.
Transparency: honesty and vulnerability are essential because they safeguard against the possibility that any hidden agendas will emerge, often causing friction and dissension.
Accountability: people must have a sense of personal responsibility for their actions and hold themselves and others accountable to the standards and values of the organization.
Unity: ultimately, everyone needs to be moving in the same direction toward the same overall goals and vision. As a result, there is a true sense of cooperation, and every team member works for the betterment of the organization as a whole and does not seek to advance their personal ambitions.
If you are in a position of leadership, take some time today to evaluate your organization or team on these four components and identify any potential cracks that may exist. Toxicity in an organization has a way of spreading quickly, so it is essential that you as the leader confront any potential issues and ensure that they are properly dealt with and resolved. Doing so will help you create a healthy organizational culture that makes a positive difference and serves as an example for others to emulate.