As a leader, your values establish your organizational culture. You set standards for what is right and wrong. This is not an easy task. It is one thing to agree with lofty words and ideals; but how do you lead by your values?
When values are ignored and people don’t live by them, they have no meaning. Worse, the business culture becomes hypocritical, and employees lose respect for the organization and its leaders. Great leaders are accountable for ensuring that people not only know the values, but also put them into practice.
I wrote about this in a previous post, here. Successful companies that consistently report growth and profits have three best practices in common, according Charles A. O’Reilly, III, and Jeffrey Pfeffer in their book Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People (HBSP 2000):
- They have a clear, well-articulated set of values that are widely shared and act as the foundation for management practices.
- They have a remarkable degree of alignment and consistency in the people-centered practices that express their core values.
- Their senior managers are leaders whose primary role is to ensure that the values are maintained and constantly made real to all of the people who work in the organization.
Leaders who follow their values are seen as authentic. An authentic, relational culture fosters value-based responses, accountability, and higher accomplishments. The values of trust and respect forge truthfulness and a focus on people. Leaders who earn the trust of their people experience a special unity that enhances their entire organization.
If you’re anything like the clients I coach, experience and tenure give you the opportunity to see how your values evolve. Wisdom comes from successes and failures, and leads to the understanding that some things are more meaningful than you originally thought.
Seeing how relationships have been so vital for you and your organization leads you to place a higher value on people. Perhaps some relational failures came with a heavy price. By adjusting your values, the importance of engaging and helping people is enhanced. Everyone benefits from your renewed perspective.
If you have learned the hard way that taking credit for the contributions of others causes them to distrust you, your values probably needed review. Valuing humility and trust more than you once did can be a change brought on from past mistakes. Everyone has some character flaws. Great leaders learn from their mistakes and evolve their values.
Getting caught by a customer for being deceptive will likely cause you to revalue the ideal of integrity. Truthfulness or accountability may be hard lessons to learn, but as long as improvements are made and damages are atoned, a renewing of values will send you off in a better direction.
Values are worth assessing periodically. Take stock of yourself, what you stand for, and what mindsets you may need to adjust. Some good questions to ask yourself are: what’s worth standing for… and why?
“We judge ourselves by our intentions. The rest of the world judges us by our actions.” – Eric Harvey
Keep your values in mind as you lead. They will be evident in your actions, decisions, and conversations. Your values will guide your thinking, responses, goals, and vision. Your people will see a nobler, genuine, trustworthy leader who is worth following.
What do you think? How have you put your values into action in your organization? Is it time for an assessment and adjustment of your value? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 561-582-6060; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.