Leader Behavior, Team Culture, and your Career Path

Published: July 14, 2016

The behavior of the team leader can drive employee engagement more powerfully than the mission statement. We all become complicit with the leader’s words and actions by our choice to work in an organization. Healthy or unhealthy, our career path choices are de facto endorsements. All too often, reasonably minded colleagues stay in situations that are making them sick. Some have limited options when workplace culture falls out of alignment with their purpose. Others become free agents. What we tolerate, we sanction.

Examples abound. Any time you crave Fridays and dread Monday, something is wrong. Unless your work is a reflection and expression of your strengths and priorities, it will eventually regress to an under-satisfying contract where prescribed services are exchanged for agreed compensation. For most, spending the majority of waking hours enduring this cold arrangement is unsustainable.

To whose horse should I hitch my wagon? The presence of these qualities makes me skip to work whistling a happy tune. The absence signals the need for a job hunt.

Inspiration: Help me see a brighter future.

Accountability: Ensure words and actions match mission and values.

Poise: Stay nimble and focused under pressure.

Confidence: Let ego fuel purpose rather than masking insecurity.

Open-mindedness: Be eager to hear diverse perspectives.

Growth: Continue to learn and evolve.

Those possessing these attributes usually lead organizations where recruitment is easy and retention is high. Word gets out quickly. Regardless of the industry, “best place to work” data is readily available. Ask around. It’s your career path.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.