As a culture, we are obsessed with leadership. We look at it neurologically, ethically, sociologically, and of course, narratively. Different scenarios call for different models of leadership, but one surprising quality may prove effective in all of them.
Researchers at England's University of Exeter have just released a study on a management concept called "servant leaders." The idea is that supervisors who display empathy, integrity, and trustworthiness, especially to their direct reports, correlate to improved effectiveness. By providing support, these servant leaders can create a company culture that encourages teamwork, innovation, and employee growth.
"Employees are more positive about their work and therefore also often feel empowered to become more creative," said lead author Allan Lee in a press release. "The result is a rise in productivity."
Of course, this doesn't simply mean a change of attitude will transform a place overnight. Leaders, for one, can lean so hard on past experience that they fail to comprehend the present. Followers in general can also have a "dark side," which can affect performance as much as a bad boss. But no matter where you fall in the company hierarchy, you can set yourself and your team up for success by spending a little time examining your mindset as you start your day.
A truly positive work environment, helmed by people who really care about their colleagues' wellbeing, isn't something you can fake. But given the results, it's well worth putting in the effort to build it.