Six Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Culture Now
People in strong cultures smile and laugh.
The idea that it takes fewer muscles to smile than frown is silly. If you don’t want to smile, it doesn’t matter how easy it is.
You may think you’re smiling, but does your face know?
Frowners aren’t present. A serious face, when you’re with others, says your mind is elsewhere. Deep thinking requires frowning, scowling, and chin rubbing.
Frowners are problem-solvers. Fixing requires deep thinking. They say, “Hire people smarter than you.” So, if the people around you are so smart, why are you fixing and solving?
Frowners are self-absorbed. Smilers have an outward focus. Frowners sink inward. Thinking about yourself all the time makes you ugly.
People who feel superior don’t smile. They’re looking down on others. Smiling and power often have an inverse relationship.
You don’t smile enough.
Building strong organization requires smiling.
You set the tone. Telling people to be happy doesn’t matter until you smile. People reflect leadership.
Culture isn’t in desks, paint, or carpet. These things express culture, but, they don’t make it.
Strong culture is in strong people.
Free your smile by building and believing in the strengths of others.
Six ways to smile more and build a strong culture:
- Be with people when you are with people.
- Become “one of” not “one above.” Partner rather than supervise or fix.
- Celebrate strengths more than fixing weaknesses. Seeing strength in others makes you attractive.
- Let your face – lips and eyes – express what’s in your heart.
- Think in private. Public smiling requires private thinking.
Fake smiling makes you look foolish. But, if you want a strong culture, start smiling.
Why don’t leaders smile?
How can leaders smile more?
I too often am “thinking” when I should be present. Thanks for the reminder.
However, it’s eerie how similar our thoughts (and blogs) were this morning. Mine is about changing a school culture with guess what…a smile.
Thanks Dauna. I’m glad to think like someone as smart as you. 🙂
Hmmm… I’m going to have to dwell on this and really observe myself for a day as well as ask others to see how I behave most often at work. I know at times I am in my own head too much (compared to the norm at least), but I’ve usually chalked that up to being more of a an abstract thinker than a detail oriented person. I’m always trying to dig to the deeper root problem.
Thanks for the introspective thought leadership.
Thanks James. My observation about myself and others in leadership is there is too little smiling. I had a guy tell me that I had learned not show an expression on my face as I listened. Actually, I was very interested in what he said but I guess my face didn’t look very open or welcoming. That incident last week got me thinking about this. I truly believe that something as simple as smiling makes a difference.
Guilty as charged. I often have to remind myself to be “intentionally present”. Your words are true, thanks for the reminder.
Thanks MJ. It was a kick in the pants when I realized that one reason I don’t smile when I’m with others is that I’m too much in my own head.
Well we can agree to disagree today, right Dan?
People, real people experience a full range of emotions. Pretending to be happy and smiling all the time just isn’t keeping it real.
In my way of understanding people and cultures the healthiest is where people trust those around them enough to just be real.
Great new book on cultures in business by Simon Sinek. Ordered my autographed copy can’t wait till it gets here and I can learn more from Simon.
In my experience if you trust those around you being yourself and feeling safe to do that makes people smile when they feel happy, feel it is ok to be sad when they are sad ect ect ect.
Just how I sees it, my story and sticking to it. Does not mean you are wrong if your opinion differs. Just means u have a different opinion.
SP back to generating as much oxytocin in a day I can!!!!
Thanks Scott. I had no intention of suggesting we should fake it. Culture must be built intentionally. Being intentional isn’t necessarily being fake.
Well it is a paradox not a singledox!!!!!!
Sometimes fake it till you make it is valuable too!
Here is what I truly, sincerely believe.
Find a person, people, a company whatever who are getting results I want, creating a culture I want to work in.
Find out what they THINK, DO and BELIEVE. I believe success leaves clues.
Find the company who has the culture I would like to be in and DO what they do.
Barry Wehmiller has 7000 employees. They have a 72% employee satisfaction rate. They have grown from 20 million a year in revenues to 1.5 billion. They share a 15% annual dividend with stockholders. Average s&p company over the last 5 years 3% and 74% of the people feel disengaged at their job!!!
For a business making tons of money and people happy!!!! What else could a business ask for?
So Dan show me a company doing as well or better and I will look into copying what they think, do and believe.
Hint, they are Simon Sineks favorite company living every day what he preaches. That is why he loves them. Leaders Eat Last his new book.
Thanks, Scott ps. I cannot get your intent, only can read the words you choose to express it.
Scott…wonder if you left out a fourth element…Think, Do, Believe… and Feel. People have to feel at their core that they are making a difference, And I do see a difference between believing and feeling…need em both.
Dan, after reading your post, I went to look for some science background on your assertion that frowners are “self-absorbed” problem-solvers. A few minutes on Google didn’t turn up anything on this. Can you share any citations for this? thanks.
Thanks Bruce. I appreciate your question. This post like most others are the result of self-reflection on my own leadership both personally and organizationally. I seldom look for articles that validate the points I’m making.
I see in myself the tendency to frown when I’m fixing people or solving problems. I also find that when I’m fixing people, I’m thinking about me and what I want more than others.
Outstanding! I call this leading to the light.
1. Ayup. (and stop fiddling with your gadgets when you are with people)
2. You have to be first into the ditch if you want others to dig with you.
3. We have strengths and opportunities.
4. Ayup, again.
5. Requires a lot of number four, even if you don’t have that in your heart just yet. Add lots of transparency and respect.
6. I like this. It’s subtle but powerful.
Thanks Steven. I appreciate you teasing some of these ideas out. I always leave things unsaid. Glad you filled in some spaces.
The gadget thing drives me crazy!
I’m a “thinker”… like working behind the scenes … like being straight up and no BS… I don’t have time for BS. I guess that puts a “serious” look on my face most times. If you are honest and real with me I will be smiling, friendly and personable . However, if a person is hiding their true intentions behind a smile, those of us who struggle with social intelligence might be easily fooled my the insincere smile. Those hidden intentions may be malicious to a positive work culture. To smile is a good ingredient to a positive work culture …. but it often takes more than one ingredient to make something come to fruition. Honesty and sincerity must go hand in hand with a smile in building the foundations to a positive work culture.
Thanks Michael. I find smiles are sincere when I think well of the people I’m with. That includes things like being open, not fixing, and seeking their best interest. Fake/insincere smiles never work.
I’m also thinking about organizational development. I believer smiling matters in the process and becoming intentional about it is helpful.
When people are looking for a job, they evaluate the potential workplace by the appearance of those already employed.
Do these employees look happy?
Do these employees look the way I want to be seen?
Every one of us wants to work with pleasant, happy people.
Customers also evaluate businesses by the same appearance standards.
When the employees are happy they will make the customers happy and the boss happy. Everybody will be happy!
Thanks Jimmy. It’s great that you brought this idea into finding and retaining talent. Thanks for opening a new angle.
Then the not so little addition of customer satisfaction really puts a cherry on top.
Dan, I have been reading and ENJOYING your posts for many months now. I have a folder for previous posts and have shared many with others. I can tell by your regular posts and photo that you are a “glass half full” kind of guy, at least most of the time, and I appreciate that in people.
Today’s post was an epiphany for me.
“Frowners are self-absorbed. Smilers have an outward focus. Frowners sink inward. Thinking about yourself all the time makes you ugly.
People who feel superior don’t smile. They’re looking down on others. Smiling and power often have an inverse relationship.”
Those words rang out like a gong. Intuitively I realized I knew that as soon as I read them. And a face popped up as well. We had a guy who was promoted from a position below our group, to a supervisory role of our group. I thought it would be a great move for all of us. He was smart, friendly, positive, outgoing, happy, laughing, approachable, etc. Until the promotion. That was the last time he smiled. From then on he walked around with an almost bored expression. When talking to him in person he had a half-interested look most of the time. Sometimes he even smirked. He ended up being a terrible, micromanaging pain in the neck to our whole group.
Over the years I have often wondered about what really happened inside of him. I can think of two more similar examples but never really had a good handle, in my own mind, to adequately explain what had happened to them. Your post today helped shine a light into a dark corner! Thanks!
How people change as they go up the ladder would be a series of posts I would like to read.
Thanks Tim. I believe in optimism. We can’t lead without it. But it’s an acquired taste for me. I almost always start my posts with a problem I see… a dark side.
I’m thankful this post found traction for you.
I love the simple idea of smiling. It’s easy and actionable. It brings out my reluctant optimists and kicks my pessimist in the pants.
Dan is more than just a half glass full guy…;)
As much as he may deny, he somehow taps into an effluent wellspring o’ positivity.
Sometimes he seem to be looking through a transparent glass, til we realize he is actually holding up a mirror for us to reflect on…ouch. And every day too!
I recall reading that it is helpful to listen to the voice mail message that you leave on your phone, bet you weren’t smiling due to concentration or something like that…then do another one with a big grin on your face and listen to it…can you tell from the voice that you were smiling…amazing.
Good suggestion! I would be really interested in that as a post topic, too.
Thanks Trainer! Another vote for a follow up post. : )
Hmm, how people change as they move up the ladder. I agree Tim, that would be an interesting series. Would’nt it be great to find a way to determine who becomes a butt-hole when you add authority, and who is truly worthy.
Thanks Steve. Maybe Dan will pick up this! ; )
Yes…it’s an interesting question.
🙂 thanks Dan, I couldn’t agree more! I also want to bring in an indirect tie….. Patch Adams… Smiles and laughter makes you feel better.
Thanks Patrick. Love the Patch Adams connection.
This post made me smile. Thanks Dan!
Thanks Diana. Your comment made me smile.
🙂 Then my work here is done. Happy Holidays to you!
Today’s blog is alil different and refreshing. Expressions reveal more about us than words can ever say. They can convey honesty, deception, love, hate, discontent,sincerity & commitment, or, the lack thereof, the list can go on and on. A smile is a lot like a handshake, “you can spot a fake a mile away”. Leaders who are afraid to smile create the perception of being distant and unapproachable.People are reluctant to share honestly and openly with a boss who’s a ‘Grinch’. It does not take a Rocket Scientist or a Business expert to realize that customers, employee’s, and the public at large don’t want to deal with, or be associated with a ‘Scrooge’! If your happy and truly enjoy what you do for a living, don’t forget to tell your face. “A sincere smile is the most inexpensive and effective advertisement of our personality and style to the products or service,s we offer”. Whats YOUR face saying to others? Cheers Dan, whats the snow count my friend?
I would add a very simple one: be visible. No one can really know leaders if they are always in their office. It is okay to get out of the office and talk to people sometimes. Trust me, as long as you don’t overdo it, you are still earning your paycheck. People need to know who they work for.
“People need to know who they work for”. Love it John. A picture hang’n in the lobby just don’t cut it……
Reblogged this on Movers, Shakers, Leadership Makers.
I do agree with you on this one. I have tended to follow the dictum that a happy workplace is a productive workplace. However, I have come across, and had issues with, many “alpha” managers who believe that you need to be hard charging and snarling, else you create weak people.
This, I have always thought to be complete rubbish. You can create a culture of discipline with a smile
I do frown when I’m deeply considering the thoughts of others. People have pointed it out as though I appear unhappy and it’s not the case at all. So, I try to be very careful about this.
But… I know plenty of smiling problem solvers. They’re the best!!