10 Tips to Create a “Lift As You Climb” Culture


No doubt you’ve heard the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Allow me to add, “And if you want to succeed, make sure others do as well.” It’s only lonely at the top if you’re up there all by yourself. And who wants that?

Instead, learn to lift as you climb by locking arms (metaphorically, at least) and taking others with you on the journey to success. If there’s one thing  we all want, it’s companions on the path to leadership!

Here are ten strategies to help you develop a lift as you climb culture at your workplace.

  1. Paint a vivid picture of the future. Get people excited about creating a better future. When your team understands where the organization is heading and what that means to them individually, they’ll find it a lot more enticing to jump on board. Communicate the vision fully and frequently – through town hall meetings, internal newsletters, and one-on-on conversations – that everyone sees and wants in on the dream.

  2. Share your purpose. The why behind your team, division, or organization may be obvious to you, but don’t assume everyone else gets it. Look at companies like Tom’s Shoes, with its “One for One” program where they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need with every purchase. Putting shoes on kids is a purpose that can lift anyone’s spirit.

  3. Offer information appropriately.  Information is the organizational life-blood on which decisions are made in every company. Honor people with your trust and willingness to give them the facts. Except for confidential info that can’t be shared, pass information readily up and down the pipeline that can help others make timely decisions.

  4. Find the formal and informal change agents. Don’t succumb to the notion that only the senior leadership team or HR can manage change. Find those influential people at all levels of the organization who others listen to, respect, and follow. Share your vision of the future –including potential pitfalls- and enlist their help in easing others through change.

  5. Be open and transparent. Have a common language around your shared values and pre-determined standards. Don’t fall into corporate-speak or platitudes that would be better posted in the employee cafeteria or embroidered on a pillow. Instead, share real, honest, down-to-earth talk about what the company stands for and what is expected of employees.

  6. Avoid micro-managing. Nothing makes employees lose heart like being over-managed. Hire the right people, then give them both challenge and choice. People who are charged with mastering new skills and taking ownership of projects get— and stay—engaged.

  7. Warm up your emails. It’s not so hard to say please, thank you, and job well done. Don’t leave employees guessing, or worse, wondering what they did wrong, when they get overly curt emails or texts from you.

  8. Embrace your frontline. Don’t forget about the people who are out front doing hard duty with customers, clients, products and more. When you flip the conventional wisdom and think about leaders as working for their followers, and not the other way around, you are lifting your frontline. Recognize them with celebrations for wins big and small.

  9. Offer ongoing education. One of the best ways to lift others to success is to invest in their growth and development. When time and budget allow, identify staff members to send to conferences, stipulating that they share takeaways with the rest of the team upon their return. Help people chart out their career paths, offering skills training and support to get them to the next level. Lifting up your life-long learners will come back to you a thousand-fold.

  10. Know your people. This seems obvious but, believe me, it’s not intuitive to everyone. Get to know your team not just as workers (although that’s important), but as human beings. You spend a lot of time with your co-workers so take the time to discover their passions, their kids’ names, and their hopes and dreams for the future.

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