Have you read the book “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek? There’s a chapter that talks about the “Circle of Safety” and how extending that “circle” to all employees in your organization (not just the top execs or your favorite people) allows everyone to work as a team against the outside forces of the world.
As I read that chapter I realized how lucky I’d been to have experienced that kind of “circle” throughout my career and with several organizations, but also lucky to have had times when I didn’t. That’s where you learn your best lessons, right?
I correlate this “circle of safety” concept to being a single Mom. As a Mom I feel the great responsibility of raising my kids to be tough enough and smart enough to handle challenges this world will throw at them. I also feel the responsibility to be there for them when those challenges come.
I want them to know that when it comes to our family and our home, they’re safe. That way, they can focus on overcoming whatever challenge they’re facing not battling it out with me. That doesn’t mean we don’t have tough conversations, it just means that regardless of those moments, I’m on their side and I’ll always have their back.
I think that’s also the kind of support and safety our teams want from their leaders. They don’t want to have to fight the world and then turn around and fight their own leader or teammates. We should have their back and never make excuses for why it’s okay to throw them under the bus…this one time. It’s just not.
Creating a healthy and high performing culture isn’t up to just one leader. Even if you’re the CEO you can’t be everywhere, all the time. You know the saying that it takes a “village” to raise a child? Well, it takes a “village” to raise a culture.
Rally cries at meetings, a video message, and posters on a wall aren’t going to cut it if you aren’t walking the walk. Stand up for culture even when the going gets tough and the pressure is on. I know it’s not easy, but if you want great performance, commit to culture. It is critical to your long-term success.
Here’s the best part– once you’ve built it, your people will move mountains to help protect the brand they love and the performance and numbers will follow. I know this because I’ve helped build it, I’ve experienced it and I’ve been so grateful for it.