How do your emotions affect your ability to lead?

Success Begins with Belonging

Would you feel motivated to do your best work in an environment that made you feel uncomfortable, or underappreciated? If the answer is no, you are in the majority. Employees succeed when their organizations make them feel that they belong and are valued.

In his book The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, Daniel Coyle writes that “creating safety is about dialing in to small, subtle moments and delivering targeted signals at key points.” It requires attention to detail, mindfulness, and a commitment to taking small actions that add up over time.

In my last post on the importance of belonging, I discussed three strategies suggested by Coyle. Here are three more ways to create an environment that fosters success:

  1. Always say thank you—even if it feels like you’re overdoing it.

The power of a sincere “thank you” cannot be underestimated. Expressions of gratitude help to reaffirm relationships and encourage cooperation. So thank your employees, even if what you’re thanking them for is part of their regular responsibilities. It sends the message that you see the work they do and that you appreciate their contributions to the organization, which in turn helps to motivate them to continue putting in their best efforts.

  1. Don’t shy away from “menial” tasks

Coyle remarks that the leaders of the most successful organizations can often be seen after hours picking up trash. He calls this “muscular humility—a mindset of seeking simple ways to serve the group.” The most effective leaders never feel that any task is beneath them, and they are willing to set an example for others. If you want to build group morale, be proactive about showing your employees that everyone is in it together.

  1. Don’t give “sandwich feedback”

A lot of leaders like to give what is referred to as “sandwich feedback”—a positive, followed by a criticism, and then another positive. The theory behind this method is that the positive feedback makes the negative feedback easier to digest. However, in reality, this approach is often confusing, and employees tend to either focus entirely on the negative or the positive. Instead, give praise whenever it is deserved, and when you need to give negative feedback, make sure the focus is on learning and growing, and that the dialogue is two-way.

What steps do you take to ensure that your employees feel a sense of safety and belonging? I’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to start a conversation, you can reach me via my website, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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