In leadership, they talk about “the tone at the top”. The concept is that a organization’s culture and its values should be set at the top, demonstrated at the top, and will therefore resonate down the organization’s hierarchy to set expectations and influence the conduct and behaviors of all.
This can be in regards to ethics and integrity, transparency and honesty, inclusivity, and more.
When I first heard the phrase, I liked the idea right away. Honesty and integrity are personal mantras for me. They are two of the cluster of stars by which I set my sail. Yet something small was escaping me.
I know that if I let these things brew for awhile, they often reveal themselves to me. This one has finally fully steeped.
Yes, the leadership sets the example. Board members or the business owners should set the tone at the top. The Executive Director or Manager should certainly demonstrate this tone at the top. However, it is my opinion that, at the end of the day, everyone is responsible for emulating the tone at the top.
If there is only one person in a position that is considered subordinate to your own, match that tone at the top.
I’m going to go even further.
We are constantly looked at and listened to and don’t even notice. What we say and don’t say, do and don’t do is observed by those whose positions and responsibilities are equal to our own. We unknowingly influence those who are in positions of supervision above us. Leadership might flow down formally but informally and unconsciously, it can also flow from side to side or even from down to up.
All of us, no matter how new to the team, no matter how entry level our position might be, can emulate the tone at the top.