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How Leaders Can Build Culture by Inspiring Individuality

The pandemic has changed the workplace forever, but is your company built to falter or thrive in the new hybrid environment? In our ongoing podcast and blog series, we explore ways to build a strong company culture and navigate the new way to work—from home, or anywhere, together.  

In this ongoing blog series, we share insights and strategies from Kathleen Quinn Votaw and Dr. Carol Swain (professor, author, public speaker and founder of Unity Training Solutions) to help you build strong culture by respecting and harnessing individual talent. 

Dr. Carol Swain’s personal and professional story is a unique one. From high school dropout to teenage wife and mother to highly accomplished university professor and public intellectual, she is passionate about empowering others to confidently raise their voices in the public square.  

Among her lifetime of learnings, Dr. Swain has garnered helpful insights that can also apply to the corporate environments of our day.  

4 ways leaders can respect individuality and inspire culture 

1. Know the power of attitude.    

In Dr. Swain’s experience, what a person believes about themselves and the world is far more important for determining their life’s outcomes than their race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation. Each employee’s attitude is ultimately what determines how far they will go. A can-do attitude includes not blaming others for one’s circumstances, adopting a strong work ethic, and being willing to accept guidance from role models. The more your leaders can nurture this attitude, the more they will inspire employees’ success. 

2. Do all you can to promote mentoring.    

We all know that professional mentoring can change someone’s career and life trajectory. It can open up networks and opportunities beyond an employee’s immediate reach. It can also give people the tools and confidence they need to develop and promote themselves. Most importantly, the right mentor can be a valuable role model who can help employees see possibilities and play to their strengths to navigate a better path ahead. Remind employees that a great mentor doesn’t have to look just like them. What’s important is that it’s someone who can lead, guide and provide sound professional advice.  

3. Be true to your company’s foundational values. 

We’ve all seen it before. A company starts out as a small family business that eventually becomes a multi-million corporation. Yet the bigger they get the more they deviate from the original principles that helped them rise to where they are today. This often happens because the owner delegates authority to someone who doesn’t share the same values. Company leaders have a huge responsibility to set the right tone in the organization, convey the company values to employees, and to protect those values with integrity.   

4. Respect individuality and lead with empathy. 

For employees to thrive, they need to feel understood. Today’s leaders need to listen with compassion and without judgement to each employee’s point of view. This shows respect for each person’s individuality—their uniqueness, who they are, and what they bring to the role. By bringing together people from all walks of life—and embracing the beautiful differences that everyone has—your leaders will inspire teams to make great contributions to the company mission. For additional tips, check out Kathleen’s new book Dare to Care in the Workplace.  

Want to learn more? 
Listen to the full podcast with Dr. Carol Swain (Part 1 and Part 2) or see all the podcasts in our Dare to Care in the Workplace series. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to get alerts when new podcasts are released.  

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