Strategy & LeadershipBuilding healthy and empowered leadership teams

Building healthy and empowered leadership teams

With specialist insight and experience from Jen Scherler-Gormley, HR Lead UK, Cisco, HRD Connect investigates how businesses can build empowered and healthy leadership teams.

Building a healthy and empowered team comes with a plethora of benefits in the working world. Businesses that successfully create healthy teams have high productivity and engagement levels amongst their workforces, leading to increased business effectiveness. With specialist insight and experience from Jen Scherler-Gormley, HR Lead UK, Cisco, HRD Connect investigates how businesses can build empowered and healthy leadership teams.


For an organisation to reinvent their leadership teams, they must first assess their company culture.

“We don’t just think about the environments that we provide for individuals; we also look at the behaviours and characteristics of our organisation,” says Jen Scherler-Gormley, HR Lead UK, Cisco.

“Businesses must take a broader view than just thinking about culture. It’s about making sure that everybody is aware of the culture within the business, and the part they play in it.”

“Everyone is accountable for culture; it empowers people to act and see greatness. Where they are not aligned with our culture, people are empowered to act and call it out.”

It’s vital for culture to not be a tick box for employers. Managers need to invest time and resources into a culture that suits their workforces.

Transparency is also a key asset of building healthy teams. Studies by Linkedin reveal that 57% of employees want to see greater transparency in their companies, especially in their employers’ stance on diversity and inclusion.

Enforcing workplace transparency can allow both employee and manager to have honest workplace conversations, prompting everyone to be themselves at work.

“It’s uncomfortable to hear some of the things that haven’t gone well according to our culture. However, ensuring transparency shows that we’re all accountable, everyone’s empowered to act,” continues Jen.

“Cisco is there to support people through that process, rather than become the tech company that hopes the problem will go away. Businesses that drive transparency help employees feel that they are part of a culture in which they can always thrive.”

Beyond establishing a healthy and transparent culture, leadership programmes and development can also heavily benefit sustaining an efficient leadership team.

“Leader programs not only provide training at different levels but also provides development opportunities for people who aspire to be leaders.” continues Jen.

“Once a year we virtually bring 10,000 leaders together and provide an opportunity for leaders to network and share. it’s an opportunity for us to say what is important to us at Cisco, and then bring it to life through storytelling and simulation.”

Leadership programs and additional learning schemes for business leaders can provide the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and create a healthy relationship amongst managers. Global teams like Cisco need to capitalise on these opportunities, where face-to-face interactions aren’t always a regular occurrence.

“It’s a really good way of us understanding people’s engagement and knowledge to then very quickly rectify that. We use it as an opportunity to learn for ourselves,” continues Jen.

“We’re always thinking about the experience we want leaders to create within their teams. It’s a brilliant way of showing inclusivity and bringing people on the same journey.”

Learning programs and culture must be considered when building a healthy and empowered team. However, companies must see the process as a journey. Listening to employees and understanding their expectations can ease the progression of building effective teams.

“If you’re trying to inflict a culture that doesn’t resonate with them and doesn’t feel connected with an organisation, then it would be a tick box. Listening has to happen at every step of the process,” continues Jen.

“Building a level of trust is key. It’s about taking a holistic approach across all the departments. Businesses can’t have HR doing everything themselves. It needs to come from the ground up and be supportive top down.”

It has become increasingly strenuous to build an engaged and healthy team in such an uncertain time of business. Organisations that are routinely learning can set the right foundations to make a positive step into the future.

“In times of uncertainty, it’s about instilling a culture of being a lifetime learner,” says Jen.

Providing the right culture and tools to enable organisations to build and apply critical skills are important.

“Having a culture where people can ask the difficult questions and put forth suggestions is going to be key.”

Businesses that prioritise talent movement into different roles, and constantly expand experience is going to be an essential asset in the future. Culture, learning and transparency can aid businesses in going on this journey.

“It’s using the full power of every employee and contingent worker to contribute, be accountable and be empowered, building that culture has to be the greatest benefit,” concluded Jen.

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