Effective managers don’t just manage people and processes. They offer themselves as role models. A role model is someone others look to as a good example. Someone who is worthy of imitation. By acting as a role model, managers take the opportunity to set the standard for employee behavior, attitudes, and values.  By doing so, they are in a better position to actually inspire, support, guide and encourage the people they manage. This is crucial to setting the tone for organizational culture especially when it comes to values like belonging, integrity, and empathy. These values are increasingly important to an organization’s bottom line and if managers embody them, they encourage others to display the same behaviors so they can flourish throughout the entire organization. Let’s look at why each of these values is important and how managers can role model them.

The Importance of Belonging

Belonging is the feeling of being accepted and valued for who you are. As pack animals, humans have a primal need for connection. Most people want to bring their best self to work. However, if you don’t feel like you belong, fear, doubt and stress can creep in. None of which leads to engagement and productivity. On the flip side, if managers foster belonging, and team members feel like they can be themselves at work, anxiety levels go down, and well-being increases. This can lead to greater engagement, productivity, and retention. In fact, high belonging has been linked to a 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days. In plain English, belonging matters. To encourage more belonging at work, managers can role model the following behaviors: 

  • Inclusive Language: Managers should use inclusive language that makes everyone feel welcome and valued. This includes avoiding exclusive terms and addressing any biases that may arise in communication.
  • Diverse Hiring and Promotion: Managers should actively support diversity in hiring and promotions. When employees see leaders valuing diversity, they are more likely to feel that they belong, irrespective of their background.
  • Open-Door Policy: Managers should encourage open and honest communication. They should be approachable, willing to listen, and responsive to employee concerns, creating an atmosphere where employees feel their voices are heard.

The Value of Integrity

In leadership, integrity means consistently adhering to strong ethical and moral principles. When leaders demonstrate integrity, they inspire trust and respect among their team. This, in turn, encourages employees to act with honesty and ethics in their own roles. So, having integrity in the workplace is essential to building trust with your colleagues and employees. It’s also integral for making ethical decisions and addressing challenges calmly and purposefully. Managers can role model integrity with the following strategies:

  • Transparency: Be transparent in decision-making and communication. Sharing the ‘why’ behind decisions, even when they are difficult, builds trust and demonstrates a commitment to doing what’s right.
  • Ethical Decision-Making: When managers face ethical dilemmas, they should choose the path that aligns with their organization’s values, even if it’s the more challenging route. This sets a clear standard for integrity.
  • Accountability: Take responsibility for mistakes and work to rectify them. Leaders who admit when they’re wrong and take corrective action show that integrity is more important than ego.

An Emphasis on Empathy

Emotions and feelings are a part of every day life at home and at work.  Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Managers who practice empathy are in a position to create a true culture of support, camaraderie and collaboration where employees feel heard and understood. All of which leads to better teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. To role model empathy, managers can implement the following:

  • Active Listening: Practice active listening by giving employees your full attention when they speak. This demonstrates that their concerns and feelings are valued.
  • Understanding Personal Challenges: Show understanding and flexibility when employees face personal challenges. Whether it’s a family issue, health problem, or other personal matter, empathy from leaders can make a significant difference.
  • Recognition and Appreciation: Recognize and appreciate your team’s efforts. When leaders show gratitude for their employees’ hard work, it fosters a positive and empathetic environment.

Putting It All Together

For managers looking to improve culture and the bottomline, role modeling belonging, integrity and empathy is a key first step. And the reality is that being a good role model benefits both the manager and the people being managed. Positive behaviors that permeate throughout an organization, benefit everyone. And managers that set the precedent typically receive more respect, and often find themselves in better leadership positions than those who choose not to lead by example. Of course, working to instill a sense of belonging within your team and modeling empathy and integrity at all times can be difficult in today’s fast-paced work environment. It can also be challenging when other leaders in the organization aren’t doing the same. So we say, manage up and manage out because doing the right thing is always the right thing. 

The Culture (R)evolution Starts With You!

Brilliant People™ offers specialized management training designed to help managers improve their relationships with their direct reports. Our training programs focus on key areas, including fostering belonging, integrity, and empathy in leadership. With our expert guidance, your leaders can become even more effective role models, creating a work environment that values these critical qualities. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your organization build stronger, more empathetic, and inclusive leadership.

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