The Trio that Works Together: Organizational Culture, Leadership, and Employee Engagement 

I once thought paying significant attention to an organization's culture was excessive. It's not! 

No longer are the days of accepting a workplace culture because there is no other viable option.

An organization’s culture matters – and your early career, experienced, and prospective employees decide how much they will engage in the workplace or remain with an organization based upon the culture they encounter.  Their decisions have a direct impact on performance, productivity, and profits.

Your leaders’ behaviors shape and significantly influence your organization’s culture – in their business units and across the enterprise.

Are those leadership behaviors fanning into flames employee engagement? Or are leadership behaviors stifling employee engagement and dimming the light?

Employee engagement is “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace.”


As role models, your leaders’ actions and decisions influence the values, behaviors, and norms that define and shape the work environment – the culture.

Culture Impacts

A positive workplace culture that exudes positive leadership behaviors, such as open communication, transparency, integrity, respect for self and others, empowerment, accountability, and support, fosters trust, collaboration, and innovation, fueling a sense of belonging resulting in higher employee engagement. 

When employees feel valued, respected, and connected to the organization’s values and mission, they are more likely to engage in their work actively, increasing productivity, job satisfaction, and retention.

Conversely, negative leadership behaviors, such as micromanagement, lack of transparency, favoritism, and unethical conduct, can contribute to a toxic culture, leading to fear, disengagement, absenteeism, and high turnover. 

Leadership Actions: What to Do

Consider incorporating more of the following into your approach:

  1. Communicate with Transparency. Regularly communicate organizational goals, updates, and changes transparently to ensure employees feel informed and involved in decision-making processes.
  1. Provide Recognition and Feedback. Regularly acknowledge achievements and milestones, both big and small, to demonstrate appreciation and encourage continued engagement.  Ensure that recognition is timely, specific, and linked to the organization’s values and goals. Doing so reinforces desired behaviors and shows employees that you notice and value their efforts, which can significantly boost engagement levels. Additionally, have open improvement communication with team members, offering specific, actionable feedback focused on behaviors to encourage growth and development. Include FeedForward, a Marshall Goldsmith approach, providing suggestions of what to do in the future to realize the desired behavior.
  1. Empower and Trust. Empower employees by delegating responsibilities and trusting them to make decisions within their roles. Avoid micromanaging. Instead, allow employees to operate autonomously, fostering a sense of ownership and motivation and providing support when needed.

Leadership Actions: What Not to Do 

Eliminate or significantly reduce these behaviors by replacing them with more effective leadership approaches:

  1. Offering Too Much Insight. While wanting to add insights to every discussion is natural, this can diminish an employee’s commitment to their ideas. Practice restraint and allow team members to own their ideas and solutions, fostering a sense of empowerment and engagement.
  1. Modeling Negative Behavior. Resist engaging with sarcasm and cutting remarks. This behavior can undermine a positive work environment and employee morale. Instead, focus on constructive communication that builds up the team. Promote a culture of respect, professionalism, and support where all employees feel valued and safe.
  1. Limiting Development Opportunities. Provide opportunities for growth and development to employees at all organizational levels. Resist relying on one’s technical expertise as sufficient to achieve the desired impact and success. Invest in training, mentoring, and career advancement programs to help employees reach their full potential and stay engaged.
When leaders model the behaviors they expect from others, they directly shape the culture, set the tone, and steward employee engagement.

As leaders, we significantly impact organizational culture through our actions, attitudes, and the example we set for others to follow. Our behaviors and words make a significant difference in creating a culture of employee engagement.

Want Help in Creating a Culture of Employee Engagement?

Book a complimentary consultation.

Lillian Davenport, SPHR, SHRM – SCP, CTACC, Principal, End View Solutions, LLC

Lillian Davenport is a coach, consultant, and women’s leadership strategist. Her leadership program, Maximize Her LeadershipSM, guides women in bringing together their talents, strengths, and executive presence to experience a thriving career.

Lillian’s career as a human resources leader includes roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Woodforest National Bank, and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), where she leveraged employee relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise in leadership development.