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Survey: Leadership Behaviour Determines Workplace Culture

Leadership Behaviour Determines Workplace Culture

By now we've heard the trending story of Amazon VP Tim Bray stepping down from his post as Vice President of Web Services following the firing of employees he said voiced concerns over work conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bray cited that "the company's actions were evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture." His stepping down has drawn the attention of many who applaud his decision to stand up for employees who chose to speak up about concerns they were experiencing.

As younger generations enter the workforce, it's leaders like Bray they expect to be working for. A leader who values employees and encourages an open and collaborative workplace culture.  

Company culture is built from leader's actions

Supervisors play a critical role in determining the strength of the ethical workplace culture within an organization. For many employees, supervisors are the only people in leadership positions they will interact with on a daily basis. Because of this, the leader's behaviour will drive the values and culture as a whole within the organization.

A global business ethics survey determined that the culture of an organization is very much determined by how employees perceive their leadership.

The survey demonstrates employee expectations related to behaviors they may see or experience in the workplace, including reporting of misconduct and accountability.

In North America, the survey showed that around 70% of employees would be surprised if direct supervisors observed misconduct and did not address or report it. This is very telling in that employees do look to leaders to demonstrate that speaking up is an expected behaviour.

Numbers from North America also showed that just over 75% of employees would be surprised if coworkers observed misconduct and did not report it.

“Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion.”
Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb

The trend is pretty clear in that employees today see speaking up about misconduct a normal behaviour in building and strengthening the company's culture. And if reaction to Tim Bray's stepping down over the firing of employees who did speak up is anything to go by, he's leading the charge for future leaders.

Gone are the days of keeping silent, brushing misconduct under the rug, and looking the other way. Today's employees feed off of a positive, collaborative, and inclusive workplace culture.

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photo Amanda Nieweler
About the Author
Amanda writes for WhistleBlower Security about ethics, compliance, workplace culture, and whistleblower hotlines. Amanda brings her nearly two decades of risk and compliance experience to the WBS blog where she is dedicated to helping people and companies promote speak-up cultures.