Values are tricky. We have personal values that may not be articulated, but drive who we are, what we do, and how we respond to others. We take our values into any situation where they act as a barometer for what we consider to be right or wrong. It gets a little tricky when we take our values into an organization. Usually the interplay between the organization’s values and our own is a sliding scale of good. But not always.
As leaders, we must lead from the values that we hold to be true. And if our values are not aligned with the company’s values, then what? The truth of the matter is the company’s values override our own preference. The black-and-white of it is that when we agree to work for a company, we agree to become advocates of the values, mission, and vision. Very few people think of these things on a day-to-day basis; however, that must change. Companies are designed around stated values and must be leveraged in our leadership acts.
Values-rooted leadership is action on the belief that a company’s values must be used to achieve success and to support and grow the organizational-community.
Here are a few leadership actions on the belief that values are central to a company’s success:
Guide decisions. Decision-makers must weigh considerations against the company’s values. If a company value is Trust, yet doesn’t allow its employees to work from home or virtually what message is it sending. We’ve seen distrust at the heart of this “real life” policy. Inevitably it boils down to, “how will I know they’re doing their work?”
And what about the companies who advocate innovative thinking as a value? Is the company designed to foster this? How are different ideas allowed to surface? How prepared are managers to lead in an innovative environment?
Hold people accountable. Team dynamics are complicated and we’re all bound to bump into one another. Conflict or tension between employees is good in doses. When the tension reduces a team’s ability to perform or when another person’s behavior is inappropriate, leaders must deal with it immediately. If distracting behavior is allowed to continue, I bet there is a serious contradiction to the company’s values. Leaders that let this sort of nonsense continue are sending an (unintended) message that it’s okay to dismantle the team’s ability to perform.
Identifying values is not a check-the-box exercise. Values are a pivotal design element to guide all employees to achieve success and foster understandable relationships with each other.