in Leadership, Leading People, Leading Projects

Leadership Belief and Building ‘People-Centric’ Culture

As a leader, you can lead others with a belief that “people are good” – or with a fear that people will default. Your belief is reflected in the way you structure up your leadership team, set up governance processes and treat people. You can choose to provide space and freedom for people to perform or suffocate them with stringent monitoring policies.

Managing by inducing fear (penalties woven in the processes) undermines trust amongst people – and between groups that work together. It undermines the attitude that we all need to grow, improve, prosper and most importantly – SERVE. It undermines the meaning people find in their work. It undermines freedom – which is so essential for people to think abundant. With fear, people are instigated to do wrong, to fudge the details and to dispassionately comply. Does it help?

Here are a few most prominent thoughts about building a people-oriented work culture:

  • Building culture is a choice – and that choice is driven by beliefs. If you strongly believe in people (and their goodness), that belief drives the choice of culture.
  • Choice matters only when it is acted upon – do what you decide, in the way you treat people, design compensation/reward policies, do hiring, create environment and set up processes within your organization.
  • Understand tradeoffs – when you choose to be people oriented, lot of people (factory-advocates) may suggest stringent processes to monitor people, control assets and increase their productivity. Take a call only after revisiting your belief system about people. Building a culture (like building anything) is a painful process that demands taking tough calls and understanding risks.
  • Train People: Focus on your middle management and ensure that they completely understand the belief system and culture. Build processes so that new hires learn the culture, understand it and most importantly, FEEL it.

We are out of the factory mode where fear worked. No longer in knowledge world, where people have a choice between doing “good enough” and doing “great”, between ”simply cruising along” and “driving”. People choose to give their best (discretionary effort) only when they are free, when they are out of fear, when they are believed in and supported.

– – – – –

P.S: My post Survival mindset, abundance and leadership was featured in The HR Carnival – Summertime Edition along with a host of other GREAT posts on people management, leadership and culture building. If you are a manager, leader or an HR professional – this Carnival will add a lot of value to what you do.

  1. Most appealing part in this post is the fact that a good leader should build an environment where it’s team gets room to perform and bring up / implement new ideas and these can be then monitored with efficient policies.
    Monitoring is very necessary, but it should be implemented in a way that people don’t consider it as a ‘Watch on their performance / abilities’ but they feel it as a necessary action to periodically measure status of work leading to inspiration for improvements.

    Jay Chhaya

    • @Jay : Thanks as ever for your comment and support to this blog. This post emphasizes on building an organization culture, however a leader can have a team oriented “sub-culture” where independence is respected. I agree with your point that monitoring should be an “act to help” and not an “act to pull someone down” or an “act to profess self-importance”.


  2. Hire aspiring individuals, middle managers who have heart, both to be courageous and respect every individual (not consider them ‘resources’).

    Thanks for such a thoughtful post. I like the point that “freedom is so essential for people to think abundant”.

    • @ Vamsi – Thanks for adding that all important point – “middle managers who have heart, both to be courageous and respect every individuals” – Amen to that!

  3. So true that fear undermines trust in groups. People work against rather than with each other, not because they are bad but in order to try to protect themselves from negative consequences.
    .-= working girl´s last blog ..Boundary Conditions =-.

    • @Laura (Working Girl) – Thanks for the comment. Yes, fear undermines trust and undermines people too. As you rightly said, leading with fear is mostly counter-productive to team’s performances.


Comments are closed.


  • The Carnival of HR – Online Degree Edition is up! « TalentedApps April 29, 2011

    […] Tanmay Vora’s Leadership Belief and Building ‘People-Centric’ Culture […]

  • Carnival of HR – Online Degree Edition | Unbridled Talent April 29, 2011

    […] Leadership Belief and Building ‘People-Centric’ Culture – Professor Tanmay Vora of QAspire Blog. […]