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2020 Global Culture Report


We cannot emphasise it enough—leaders are a crucial part of the employee experience and play a critical role in building thriving workplace cultures. While there are many other important influencers, few affect so many elements of the employee experience..


Our advice to organisations? Enable your leaders.

Too many leaders are promoted to their roles because they are great individual contributors. They do exceptional work. But they may not know how to lead. Some make the transition easily. Others micromanage their people, or worse, intimidate and belittle them, dictating how they do their jobs and taking credit for their success.

Great leaders inspire their people. They are influencers of great work, rather than doers. They are mentors and coaches. They know when people need guidance and when they need autonomy. They set meaningful purposes and empower their teams to fulfill them by fighting for resources. Few leaders arrive on the job knowing how to do all these things. But with the right help from their organisations, any leader can become a great leader. Here’s how:

1. Provide direction for new leaders. Companies should be prepared to train new managers on modern leadership skills and the importance of things like recognition and wellbeing. Never assume they automatically know how to lead. They need coaching and mentorship, just like their teams.

2. Support leaders with the right resources. Like ongoing leadership training and development, mentorship opportunities, adequate budgets and equipment for their teams, and the technology to connect with their teams and recognise great work as it happens. Leaders shouldn’t have to ask where to go when they need support. They should have the tools to succeed at their fingertips.

3. Help leaders feel connected. We expect our leaders to connect their people to a purpose, accomplishment, and one another. But do we do the same for our leaders? Make sure you are helping your leaders connect to your organisation’s purpose, find success, and build bonds with other leaders. Provide networking and mentorship opportunities for them so they have a chance to develop social ties.

Finally, don’t forget the human element. Leaders have an employee experience, just like their direct reports. They have peak and valley experiences. They are affected by your company’s culture. Remember to check in with your leaders, have one-to-ones with them, keep an eye out for burnout, and foster their wellbeing. Leadership’s responsibilities will only increase as we expect them to evolve from traditional leadership to a more modern style that can inspire and engage today’s (and tomorrow’s) workforce. Craft a workplace culture that helps both your leaders, and their people, thrive at work.


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The O.C. Tanner Institute used a multi-method research design, employing interviews, focus groups, cross-sectional surveys, and a longitudinal survey.

Qualitative findings are derived from 16 focus groups and 108 interviews among employees and leaders of larger organisations. The groups were held in two phases: December 2018 and March 2019. Groups were conducted in Denver, CO; Toronto, CA; London, UK; and Sydney, AU. Each group represented a range of types of employers, including private companies, public companies, and government entities.

Quantitative findings are derived from online survey interviews administered to employees across Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States. The total sample size was 20,088 workers at companies with 500+ employees. Fieldwork was undertaken in May and June 2019. Survey data was collected and analysed by the O.C. Tanner Institute. This sample is sufficient to generate meaningful conclusions about the workplace culture of companies in included countries. However, as we do not have population data, results are subject to statistical errors customarily associated with sample-based information.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from the O.C. Tanner Institute.

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