Giving Teeth to the Lion
Organizations without guiding values have lost control of their identity and future.
Values guide during good times, anchor during tough times, and create stability during change. One of my leadership blunders was focusing too much on change and not enough on values.
Values make us predictable where it counts.
Values explain the way we behave while we do business.
Core values explain:
- What we care about.
- How we treat each other.
- How we treat customers.
- Organizational identity.
Values without behaviors are lions without teeth.
Values and behaviors:
- Honor: Everyone knows and celebrates the strengths of their teammates. “Bob is great at…” “Mary is our go-to person when it comes to …”
- Servant-leadership: We do what’s best for others, even if it’s more difficult for us. “How may I serve you?”
- Innovation: When someone fails we ask, “What did you learn?”
- Positive energy: All meetings begin with at least one success story.
- Initiative. Rather than ask permission, we say, “I intend to…,”
- Customer service: When we don’t have an advertised product, employees are authorized to substitute products or services to satisfy customers, within an established financial limit.
- Transparency: Most conversations are open to everyone. We believe secrets reflect inequities.
- Employee development: Experienced employees mentor new employees. Successful mentors advance.
- Respect: We know each other’s aspirations and expect each other to live up to them.
- Fun: Every week the noisiest office receives free movie passes.
- Curiosity: Managers ask two questions before making statements.
- Teamwork: Every team member spends at least one hour a week helping other teammates.
- Teamwork: After decisions are made we don’t complain, even if we disagreed.
- Progress: We say, “What’s next,” at the end of conversations.
- Gratitude: We say, “Thank you,” when projects are completed.
Your values express your future.
How might leaders leverage the power of organizational values?
What concrete examples of values and behaviors can you offer?
I believe Organization is built on guidelines and values become the torchlight to move on those guidelines. If the values are scattered and lost how can the guidelines be followed/towed to achieve the goal of the organization.
Thank you Abdur. Well put. If we want focus in organizational life we must first find clarity in our values.
Dan my old MBA professor at Case Western used to say that organizations need three aspects or layers of Values to succeed:
When you look at your list most of the traits listed can fall into one of them.
The Servant Leadership one still applies after all these years and is often overlooked especially by staff groups in large companies.
Thank you Brad. I hadn’t thought about the role of novelty. It makes sense. Too often, we adopt “appropriate” words that end up meaning very little.
This is a great post. I could highlight so many things…. focusing too much on change rather than the values/beliefs of the organization that will support the change; 11 – 15 on the list are so important to building a positive culture that is inclusive and moving forward; and fun – something we often skip as non-productive but such a motivating factor. Happy Monday!
Thanks Vicki. I found that focusing on change and neglecting values creates unnecessary instability and turmoil. But, if we know who we are, we have strength to adapt to changing circumstances without feeling we are losing ourselves.
Love this: “Employee development: Experienced employees mentor new employees. Successful mentors advance.” So very important… Too often, it’s the employee that is successful in their job that advances. That’s what you were hired / chosen to do!!! Mentoring others demonstrates awareness of organization goals – demonstrating advancement capabilities!!!
You have described every aspect of organisations values. Each and every point is important. Some points invite powerful attention. Values without behaviors are lions without teeth. It is so powerful statement. People may claim they have good values but unless it is implemented or reflected, it is useless. It has great relevance at workplace or even beyond. People speak big things on public forum but they are very different in their approaches. I have seen people discussing like sermon but they are just opposite in their behaviour. So, I appreciate your point- values without behaviour is useless.
Similarly, you have given extremely powerful concepts like, respect, honor, gratitude, and transparency. Each word is a gem. If people or organisation follow even a single values, I am sure, they are achieve greatness. And these are power or organisational values. Follow what you say. Say what you do. Creating authenticity in behaviour is the reflection of real leadership. The classic example is creating integrity in our personality, relations and culture.
You are right on target! Values has through close to half a Century been my inner guiding compass – naturally this can risk to become a source of conflict, in case top mgmt suddenly should decide to sell out on say ‘Respect for the Individual’ for a rather single-minded worship of ‘Shareholders Value’.
Dan, I think your “core values” and “values and behaviors”—in fact, this entire piece–should be a handout in every prospective and new staff member’s human resource package. You say it all. Excellent.
Just as addendum, I believe our presidential candidates would learn a lot by reading this too. Perhaps they might abandon their politician status and become statesmen, whereby their professed values, behavior and actions would match-up. And while government may have dominion over the country, it is not to have domination over the states or citizens. Great leaders as statesmen see their role and the aim of other political appointees as servants of the people, not as rulers. Then, as you say, they truly could express “our” future.
Hi Luckyleye: I hope it is okay to jump in here unsolicited. Dan is right. We, as people, put “value” on things like worth, cost, assessment, significance, merit, benefit, usefulness, and
even profit. And what drives us and our organization by way of character are our “values”
such as standards, morals, ideals, principles, beliefs, and ethics, etc.
Here’s a comment you can ponder that you may like: “What we must decide (personally and as leaders) is how we are valuable– not how valuable we are.”
I am currently working on a post about VALUE, and was wondering what are your thoughts of value vs values?
Thanks lucyleye. Here’s what comes to mind. In order go define and deliver value, one must have values. What are your thoughts?
I think I agree at a high level, however, I think a critical question is what are those values that drive the definition of value. It is important that an enterprise has strong core values that are true to its goals and then defines value, and executes towards creating that value. I find that often our values are misaligned. We have shareholder interests, and social values and companies market and communicate their social values while driving their business decisions from their economic values creating confusion when it comes to “adding value”. Is it adding to the bottom line? Or adding to the quality of life for the human race? I just posted my value blog. Let me know your thoughts!
Values are developed initially by a strong belief system. Then they in turn drive morals. Nothing is accomplished without beliefs.
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