Skip to Main Content

JMARK was recently named the #1 Best Place to Work in Southwest Missouri by Biz 417. But it didn’t come easy. And it didn’t happen overnight. From tough conversations to accountability and shared values, we’ve grown into a company that champions its people and isn’t afraid of taking feedback to improve.

So, what makes great leadership, the kind that people are eager to follow? Here are 6 ways to go beyond the leadership title and create a culture that brings out the best in your team.

1. Prioritize Human Connection

Imagine an environment where the human factor takes precedence over tasks—a place that sets the stage for a thriving workforce. Numbers and performance metrics can indicate results, but they’re not the only measure of success. At JMARK, the significance of nurturing employee well-being assumes the most importance. Because when you take care of your people, great business outcomes will become a natural result.

Here’s How You Can Prioritize Your People

· Weekly 1:1 meetings to review performance and identify anything blocking your success.

· Creating and joining groups with coworkers who have similar interests.

· Employee appreciation rallies that celebrate your milestones and highlight your achievements.

The result? A motivated and impassioned workforce, driven by a shared sense of purpose.

2. Build Leadership with Better Relationships

Connection is a necessity, not a luxury. It’s why we join book clubs. Why we spend our Sundays with the same people at the same sports bar, watching our favorite team. We want to be surrounded by like-minded people. People who care about the same things we do. The same can be said for business.

The greatest asset you can have as a leader is the relationships you create. From entry-level positions to the executive team, there’s always an opportunity to learn something new. Taking the time to build genuine relationships with your team will not only lead to a better connection, but it will also give you greater insight into where and how you can help your team succeed.

How You Can Turn Everyone into a Leader

To encourage everyone to take on the role of a leader, regardless of their title, JMARK created a ‘Flight Leader’ program where new hires can choose a veteran team member as their mentor. Through weekly meetings and reviews, you can learn more about the company and its core values, as well as the people and resources you have available to you whenever you need help.

The decision is based on shared interests, not the position or role. This allows our new hires to develop a more personal connection with their Flight Leader from the start.

Additionally, it’s a great way to show your team that leadership isn’t restricted to executives or directors. Anyone can be a leader. Because leadership isn’t a title. It’s a mindset.

From day 1 to year 10, it’s important to support your team and help them grow. By investing in growth, organizations invest in their own prosperity.

3. Balance People and Technology

Navigating the technological labyrinth requires finesse—a recognition that technology should enhance human capabilities, not replace them. As AI gains popularity in the workplace, uncertainty grows.

· Fear of job displacement.

· Loss of human creativity.

· Concern over digital safety.

It’s easy to get discouraged, but it’s important that you hear your team’s concerns and don’t dismiss them. When people feel heard, they feel valued. When they feel valued, they create more value. So how do you find that balance?

Reassure Your Team

Let your team know their jobs are secure. AI tools are meant to elevate your performance so you can unlock your full potential.

Create a Code of Ethics

Creating rules will help you ensure that AI tools are being used responsibly. It will also let your team know you have their best interests in mind, and that these tools are here to help them win.

Do Your Research

Not all AI is created equal. It’s crucial that you research the tools you’re interested in using before releasing them to the rest of your team. If you want a list of AI tools you can trust, dive into our AI handbook. The bad guys have access to the same tools, so make sure you identify any potential security gaps and create a plan if your network is breached.

The approach here is rooted in harnessing technology to elevate human potential, underscoring a philosophy that upholds people as the ultimate focal point. It’s People First, Technology Second®.

4. Create a Culture of Collaboration

A culture of collaboration creates a thriving company—an ecosystem where collective effort fuels innovation and effective problem-solving. Want to see how you can create a space where people are excited to share? Watch our video on Workplace from Facebook to learn how you can keep everyone connected and eager to collaborate. Here, teamwork is the glue that binds each action, and cross-functional collaborations amplify the potential for turning obstacles into stepping stones.

Your Very Own ‘Culture Crew’

At JMARK, culture is at the core. Creating a ‘Culture Crew’ was one of the best decisions we made. This group allows you to have an open dialogue about how your company can improve its processes, continue innovating, and create a culture that champions your team and continues putting people first.

So how can you make your own ‘Culture Crew’? Follow these tips:

· Include people from every department.

· Include people from every level.

· Make it a ‘No-BS’ zone and have courageous conversations.

· The CEO or senior leader needs to be present and say this specifically to set expectations for how the group will operate.

· Meet regularly (we recommend monthly).

· Create a meeting agenda and take notes throughout.

· Highlight takeaways to act upon or discuss in further detail by the next meeting.

Creating a culture is a commitment. A commitment to courageous conversations. A commitment to becoming better. A commitment to doing better. It’s not an easy task, but if you commit to it, you’ll create lasting change.

5. Have Courageous Conversations

The art of courageous conversations shapes the outcome of future success. These dialogues, rooted in openness and vulnerability, propel growth and evolution.

Tips for Having Courageous Conversations

· Don’t shy away from the truth. Address the concern head-on.

· Make it a we problem, not a you problem.

· Highlight the individual responsibilities needed for the expected outcomes.

· Create next steps to help correct the current challenges.

· Always approach from a place of support.

The space carved for these discussions becomes the nurturing ground for progress, so make sure you’re having these conversations as often as possible.

6. Carve Out Time for Joy

This is where most leaders fall short. By dedicating time to joyful activities, companies can invest in their employees’ development beyond the work they produce.

More Than Just Perks

Appreciation is an important part of company culture, but it needs to go deeper than pizza parties and ping-pong tables. We hold an employee appreciation rally each month, where we recognize employees’ notable contributions, celebrate work anniversaries, and provide them all with lunch. But it doesn’t stop there.

Here are some additional ways that JMARK has created space for joy:

· Created an Activities and Gaming committee to create and organize company events.

· Hosted a company-wide cornhole tournament with prizes.

· Invited all employees and their families to spend the day at Silver Dollar City for our annual Family Fun Day.

The average American will spend a third of their life at work. It’s important that they enjoy it. Team-building activities foster camaraderie, and the work environment becomes a place where moments of joy are etched into the very essence of the journey.

1. Check in with employees weekly on a professional and personal level.

2. Create programs and resources or continual education and skill development.

3. Reassure your team, create rules, and do your research before adopting new technologies.

4. Create a ‘Culture Crew’ to improve your work environment and build a culture that people are contributing to and proud to be a part of.

5. When tackling problems, focus on the issue and not the person. Always approach from a place of support.

6. Show your appreciation with more than the “usual perks,” and make sure you make time for fun.


As we navigate the realm of leadership, drawing inspiration from this journey becomes our guiding light. The principles that emerge—prioritizing people, harmonizing technology and humanity, nurturing culture, engaging in courageous conversations, and infusing joy—become the compass that guides us through this ever-changing landscape. The secret of triumph lies in mastering not just technology but the elements of leadership—leading with empathy, insight, and joy. Embrace the journey and embody the essence of leadership that resonates beyond tasks and into the heart of progress.

Want to learn the formula for how you can implement these techniques in your own business? Take a look at our checklist on how you can create better 1:1 meetings with your employees. You’ll get tips on what you need to include in your agenda as well as a list of questions to ask so that you’re helping your team build better habits and meet their long-term goals. Meaningful 1:1 meetings are crucial for boosting team morale and retaining top talent. If you’re ready to bring the best out of your team and support them in every way you can, dive into our article here.