Want to be an Engaging Leader? You Need One Trait

Have you ever thought about your favorite teacher? For me, it was Mr. Wright, my 8th grade math teacher. Mr. Wright was not the most fun or the most jovial; in fact, I don’t remember him smiling until the last day of school. What Mr. Wright did have was a passion for math and intolerance for anyone who didn’t try. My friends can complain all they want (some still do), but because of Mr. Wright, we started high school with a college-level mathematical education.

Mr. Wright and leaders like him demonstrate one of the most engaging traits a person can possess – competence. I am most motivated by leaders who know what they’re doing. They make decisions based on knowledge, experience and facts. Correspondingly, this is also a characteristic of appealing company cultures.

Like an engaging leader, an engaging workplace requires some degree of competence. We are all aware that strong cultures are more likely to yield long-term success. If you need proof, just google culture and financial success (there are approximately 61 million results). I didn’t read all of them, but the predominant heading seems to be “Culture Drives Performance.” Why weren’t any stating the impact of performance (i.e., competence) on culture?

I’m not going to claim that this is a “chicken or the egg” type scenario. I do not doubt that culture must be in place before financial performance is likely. However, this does not mean success has no bearing on the culture of the work environment.

Culture and success build on each other; yet, every article on developing a better culture is centered solely around the need for camaraderie, recognition, passion, and vision. These are important features and should be priorities of leadership, but doesn’t achievement also breed a more positive workplace?

My suggestion is simple. Continue to focus on the camaraderie, recognition, etc., but spend more time on running the business well. Make competence the foundation of your culture. Promote hard work and performance. Bond with your co-workers as you develop them to be better at their jobs.

It may not be as care-free as working in a constant state of happy hour, but without it, you won’t have a workplace to accommodate your beloved culture.