Leaders at top workplaces focus on building a culture that empowers employees.
Leading is an important role in business. Even employees think so, with 71 percent of the Top Workplaces employees saying they have confidence in their leaders.
But what two of these leaders are choosing to focus on might be surprising.
At RevLocal, the most important statement isn't vision or mission, it's culture. CEO Marc Hawk believes that's a worthwhile focus for a leadership team, even important enough to allow employees to be polarized by it.
“Culture for us is the reason why we succeed,” he says. “We've got people who believe what we believe, and if they get off track we can point back to that and say, ‘Here's who we are. If you're not comfortable being that with your customers or colleagues, then you probably should find another place where you can be happy.”
The company came up with three phrases that make up its culture statement: Be real, go beyond and help somebody. And these values didn't come from the top down. Employees take ownership of the values because they thought of them.
“A great culture should expel those who don't believe it,” Hawk says.
Another attitude Hawk strives to promote is that of servant leadership. Rather than expecting his employees to serve him, Hawk does what he can to aid in their roles. “We're here to help them solve problems rather than them serving us as a leadership team. We try to live out the idea of servant-minded leadership,” he says.
Temporary employment agency Dawson's President Jeff Miller also leads primarily through humble culture-building rather than executing initiatives.
“We really let people handle their own areas,” Miller says. “You really own what you own in terms of responsibility and decision-making. … Hopefully, we drop in opportunities and then we let everybody run with what they want to do. I'm a big believer in looking for the right people who say, ‘I got this,' and they take the idea or opportunity and run with it.”
Both bosses seek out people who can already be trusted to fit in, making their companies more cohesive and the job of leading smoother. It doesn't go unnoticed by staff.
A Dawson employee says: “My favorite part of Dawson is not being micromanaged. We are trusted to be responsible and because of that I feel that everyone does their best.”
Even Dawson's owners take part daily in contributing to the culture. Miller says they stop by the office every day to interact with staff, even though they have no core responsibilities other than to be ambassadors of Dawson.
“Their main focus is keeping this place special. This is still their special place. This is family to them,” he says.
And at RevLocal, leadership regularly rubs shoulders with employees. Take the quarterly game-day dubbed “RevRecess,” where employees get to choose activities—anything from playing cornhole to eating a meal from a food truck, and, subtly, building a richer culture.
“'Culture eats strategy for lunch,'” says Hawk. “We believe that.”
Chloe Teasley is the editorial assistant.