Why leaders should empower people to make decisions for themselves

The cultural aspect of any organization is extremely important, as it defines the ways in which team members act both as individuals and in groups. But while many businesses define their company cultures with elaborate mission statements and lists of “values,” these don’t necessarily have anything to do with the way a company actually functions.

For your organization to avoid this fate, you’ll need to foster a cultural shift through actions, not words, and the best way to do this is by setting an example. That’s crucial, because the culture you want to create is one where decision-making thrives at all levels of your organization – and if you as a leader are a person of action, then everyone else is likely to follow suit.

But this is often easier said than done. Culture, in many ways, is like concrete. While concrete is easy to shape when wet, once it sets, it’s impossible to manipulate. If your organization’s culture is littered with unhealthy elements, such as petty rivalries and top-down hierarchies where no one feels empowered to make decisions, you’ll need to smash the concrete and start over. And that decisive action is the first of many that will inspire others to start taking decision-making into their own hands as well.

One way to smash the concrete of an unhealthy company culture is to modify the physical environment where your people work. This can be as simple as changing where your teams meet or holding meetings on sofas, instead of around a table. Even just altering your workplace’s seating plans can have a powerful effect, especially if you get rid of corner offices and other signs of hierarchy.

These physical changes may seem trivial, but they are imperative to shaking off bad habits that have developed in a company’s culture. Sure, they aren’t enough to transform your business overnight, but they’ll create space for you to implement a new and improved company culture.

Zean Vo