You can’t control the weather- it’s hard to even predict the weather. I’m convinced this is one of the reasons why meteorologists will forecast a 50% chance of rain. What does 50% chance of rain even mean? Statistically speaking, a 50% chance is dead even. I guess a 50% chance of rain in meteorological terms says, “It could rain. It might not rain. We have no idea what’s going to happen… so bring an umbrella anyway.”
I have to give meteorologists credit, though; they do a better job of predicting weather than I could. But no meteorologist on the planet would dare claim that he or she can “create” weather. Weather can be predicted, but it cannot be created by people. The weather happens to us, and there’s nothing humans can do to change or prevent weather patterns.
Unlike the weather, a leadership climate is not out of our control. I think it’s unfortunate that leadership experts use the word “climate” to refer to this important leadership tool, because the word “climate” gives the impression that it’s something that happens to us, or around us, and we cannot influence it.
This is not the best word to describe a leader’s influence over the environment in which he or she works. However, for the sake of this article, we’re just going to use the commonly accepted word “climate” to refer to the work environment that a leader creates.
Most people don’t think about the leadership climate until something is seriously wrong with it. We usually take a good, healthy leadership climate for granted. However, when something is wrong with the climate, we feel it instantly.
Therefore, this important aspect of a work environment requires a leader’s constant attention. Here are a few of my top principles for creating a healthy leadership climate:
Bad days are some of your most important moments for creating a leadership climate. I started with this principle first because this is of first importance in creating a strong, healthy leadership climate.
Your team is always looking to your example as you lead. However, when times get tough, they pay particular attention to how you respond. Leaders set the tone by their personal example daily. But, on the bad days- when times are really tough- your team is paying close attention to how you handle the circumstances.
No one likes hard times. However, as a leader, be ready to use these difficult circumstances to put your leadership climate on display.
A leader in the Bible named Nehemiah did this exceptionally well. When times got tough, Nehemiah set the example for perseverance for his city in Nehemiah 6:11. Because Nehemiah didn’t run away from his problems, the rest of his team was willing to hang in there and do the hard work when times got tough. Bad days can be some of the most important days for creating a healthy leadership climate.
Unpredictability and inconsistency will destroy a leadership climate quickly. Following an inconsistent leader is very frustrating because no one knows how the leader is going to react next.
People need a sense of stability, and the leader’s consistency creates that sense of stability. Following an inconsistent leader is like swinging a hammer from which the head could fly off at any moment. No one wants to use that kind of hammer; no one wants to follow an inconsistent leader! To read more about how consistency helps or hurts the leadership climate, check out my article, When a Good Man Stumbles.
Know your team
There is no shortcut to learning about the people you lead. As a leader, you need to know what’s happening in their personal life, as well as their professional life. This is just a simple matter of human decency. A leader should be concerned about the person they lead… the whole person.
This means a leader should be concerned with more than just work performance. There’s no way to separate our professional and personal life. Our home environment will impact our work environment. If you want to be the kind of leader that creates a healthy work climate, then you must also know what the home climate is like for the people you lead.
Remaining calm in the midst of great difficulty is extremely important to building a healthy leadership climate. When things start to go bad, people will naturally look to the leader for answers. How the leader reacts to difficulties will set the climate for how everyone else in the organization reacts.
Think about it this way… when there’s turbulence on an airplane, people naturally look to the flight attendants. When the flight attendants look scared, everyone else on the airplane starts to get scared also. The rest of the passengers remain calm if the flight attendants are calm during periods of turbulence.
Leader- don’t take your attitude for granted. Your team is looking to you for a sense of calm during challenging circumstances.
Give permission to fail
Give your team permission to fail. This says that you care enough about what you do that you’re willing to take some risks. Any time a team member takes a risk, there is an opportunity for success… but there is also an opportunity for failure. As a leader, you can help create a healthy climate by giving your team permission to fail.
Failures don’t have to be permanent, though. As a leader, you can help your team to recover, learn, and get better as a result of their failures. This is another step toward creating a healthy leadership culture.
Some of my lasting lessons in life came from my failures. I describe them in the article, Four Powerful Lessons That Losing Taught Me.
Reward and punish well
Use the carrot and the stick well. Rewards and punishment are powerful tools for creating a leadership climate. What you reward tells your people what’s most important to you. What you punish lets people know what kind of stuff will not be tolerated under your leadership.
Reward often and reward well. Seek opportunities to reward as a chance to create or reinforce your leadership climate also. Make sure that your reward system reinforces the values and the climate you’re trying to create.
People will remember punishment much longer than rewards. Therefore, punish sparingly, swiftly, and silently. Make sure that you don’t single somebody out and embarrass them when you punish them. This is an opportunity for you to correct a mistake and set somebody on the right course.
Punishment is also an opportunity for a leader to fix a problem. Therefore, I suggest that a leader punishes swiftly. Don’t let too much time go by before you punish. By punishing quickly, a leader demonstrates that this action will not be tolerated, not even for a short period of time. Finally, punish sparingly. Don’t use the stick often. This is a powerful leadership tool. Therefore, it can be abused if used too often.
When Nehemiah’s friends turned against him and tried to stab him in the back, he dealt with it swiftly in Nehemiah 6:14. Nehemiah trusted God with the ultimate outcome of his situation. This is why he was able to create a strong leadership climate.
To watch my sermon on this, tune in to our YouTube livestream at 11:00am ET this Sunday. 2 Cities Church YouTube Channel