All Articles Leadership Management How leaders can put good first

How leaders can put good first

Respect is an imperative in business today, and that requires deliberate care toward the culture you build.

3 min read


How leaders can put good first

SmartBrief illustration

If you’re like many leaders, the pandemic has stressed your business, your people and your customers.

An opportunity lies before us. After an era of self-serving leaders, lies, misinformation and divisiveness from the highest levels, employees now expect respect, in every interaction, from their leaders and from their peers.

Results are certainly important in business today. Equally important is workplace respect. In fact, it is more important today than ever before.

Employees also expect their leaders to create and sustain work cultures that embrace diversity and equality – where everyone has a voice. Talented, engaged employees are choosing to work for, and with, organizations and leaders who take a stand on global issues like homelessness, community service and climate change.

More and more, talented, engaged employees are choosing to work for and with organizations and leaders that accommodate the incredible demands that the pandemic has placed upon them. Your team leaders and team members are doing their best to juggle isolation, working from home without suitable support or systems, and potentially supporting partners whose hours have been reduced or cut entirely.

Those stresses are multiplied for parents with school-aged kids.

So, employees expect respect.

This shift toward treating people with dignity and respect comes at an awkward time for many business leaders. These leaders are stuck between the demand for results and the requirement of respect. If leaders don’t find a mutually beneficial middle ground, employees will leave. They’ll go work for better-aligned companies and more inspirational leaders. Customers will move their allegiance to organizations that genuinely care about and proactively invest in their communities.

To be competitive in the future of work, tomorrow’s best leaders must do five things to ensure good comes first for their employees:

  1. Define a work culture that puts good first, valuing respect as much as results
  2. Create a workplace where trust is contagious, validation is pervasive, and growth — both personal and professional — is constant
  3. Create a servant purpose that ensures equitable treatment of all stakeholders (not just shareholders) and service to others
  4. Monitor, measure and reward alignment to agreed-upon standards for servant purpose, results and respect
  5. Actively help to resolve local and global issues such as inequality, poverty, health crises, and climate change

Yes, these are lofty goals. They are also the heart and soul of a “Good Comes First” work culture. More important, they are business imperatives in our new world of work.


Subscribe to my free twice-a-month newsletter. Subscribers enjoy insights from my Amazon best-seller, “The Culture Engine,” and from my upcoming book, “Good Comes First – How Today’s Leaders Create An Uncompromising Company Culture,” to be published on Sept. 21, 2021, by BenBella Books.

And, subscribe to my YouTube channel, where you’ll find more short, crisp, and clear episodes of my “Culture Leadership Charge” video series.

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for SmartBrief’s free e-mails on leadership and business transformation, among SmartBrief’s more than 200 industry-focused newsletters.