Living and leading your core values is the first step to leading people successfully. But what are values? Where do they come from? Our values are the principles that help us guide our leadership behavior in any given moment. Our values define the core identity of our organization and our own leadership. They are the twin engines of our purpose and vision.
Values are powerful. They have the ability shape every aspect of our lives. Take a recent situation and ask yourself, what values showed up here? What values were violated?
But values without behavior, remain just an operating philosophy. If you want to lead effectively, you must live your core values as a leader. The leader’s most important task is to unify values and behavior. Great leaders wear their values on their sleeves. They serve as a compass to many leadership decisions in our lives.
If we want to improve our lives, communities and organizations, we must be the change we want to see in the world. We must model the values and behaviors every day. We can create effective systems to measure those values by engaging directly with employees, customers and shareholders. Values-Driven leaders know that to attain lasting results, they must build a values-driven culture.
Leaders must consider attitude and character as the foundation of their leadership. Our values can serve as a compass for the meaning we give to the life around us. Values help us understand our world. They clarify our understanding of our world and ourselves. Values can serve as the perfect GPS to guide our actions and choices that matter.
I remember sitting in on recent leadership meeting where there was a full blown leadership presentation. I felt that the person leading it, did not actually live the ideas and values they were presenting to the group. Leadership begins with credibility. You can’t ask people to do something unless you have exemplified it yourself. To become a credible leader, you must be the standard of the values you share.
Organizational values and personal values create clarity on what we want to focus on. When people are clear on the values of their organization, they are in much better position to lead. If they don’t have a clear vision, purpose and values, most likely everything else will get blurry. When there is organizational commitment and alignment with personal and shared values, we create a culture of engagement and trust. Your organization will be more engaged when they have merged their personal values with the cultural values of your business. People want to know they matter. Values create common understanding.
But leadership must be the driver of the values through the process of daily commitment and holding each other accountable for our behaviors. If you want to engage with your team on values, have a dialogue on what do they really care about? What’s important to them? What do they hope to achieve here? Shared values provide people the avenue for common language. If people care enough about something, they have created an important value.
If we don’t insure consistency of words and deeds in our organization, then we are letting our core values fall by the wayside. We must have a unified voice on how our values show up every day and how we will measure our success together? We must make sure that value and behaviors reinforce each other.
It’s important to have these conversations and agreements on what’s important. Go around and visit people in your organization and test it out. Here are some questions that can the true test of values.
- What values are showing up now at this moment?
- Do these values create a high performance organization?
- Does every employee understand our company’s values?
- Does everyone in our organization live the values?
A value driven organization is one which values are shared and measured. Everyone is working in concert in creating a shared vision for the future and people are able to connect with personal meaning.