Need an article for your coach ezine? Here is a synopsis of a Leadership article on Values, available at www.customizednewsletters.com.
Leading with Values:
Walking the Talk
(c) 2004 Patsi Krakoff
All organizations have a mission statement and a set of values or guiding principles. They include such items as Integrity, Customer Service, Quality, Respect, High Performance, Teamwork, Leadership, and Innovation. Often these words are prominently displayed on plaques, posters, laminated cards, and even screen savers.
But when values are ignored and people don’t live by them, the culture becomes hypocritical. Employees lose respect for the organization’s leaders. It is one more reason people disengage from their work.
When values are put into action, however, people feel energy, enthusiasm, and the drive to go beyond the mediocre. When people connect to company values that resonate with their own personal beliefs, they have even more commitment, higher productivity, and better engagement with customers. The end results show up on the bottom line.
Leaders have to take personal responsibility for their organization’s values and for making sure their people share a common set of principles. This is not easy. It is one thing to agree with lofty words and ideals; it is quite another to translate ideals into action. A leader is accountable for ensuring that people not only know the values, but also put them into practice.
“We judge ourselves by our intentions. The rest of the world judges us by our actions.” – Eric Harvey
Strategies for Leading with Values in Action
How does a leader put values into action? What questions does a leader need to ask himself or herself to clarify what is needed to lead by, with, and through values? Here are six common sense leadership strategies to consider, adapted from the book Leading with Values by Bud Bilanich (2004):
- Know your values
- Walk your talk
- Teach values to your people
- Remove obstacles to working with values
5. Reward and recognize those who live the values
- Redirect those who aren’t working with values
Focus, Attention, and Persistence
As a leader, you must never lose focus on values. There is always a value present whatever the situation, even when it is buried under detail work, financial data, or other seemingly ordinary tasks. Look for the value. Point it out and remind people how their work is an important expression of values in action. It is your job as a leader to constantly teach, recognize, reward, and help course corrections where necessary.
Every member of your workforce is responsible for values-driven business practices, but they look to you, the leader, for living examples of how the values translate into action. You set the tone. When you take a cavalier approach to values or lose sight of them—even if temporarily—you give your team members permission to do the same. When you refuse to give in to pressures and obstacles and remind everyone of the important values at stake, your people will have an excellent model to follow.
The greatest challenges leaders in top positions face are ethical dilemmas—for example, questions of choosing between long-term and short-term gains. It is often a problem of choosing between right and right. There are no easy answers to some business problems. Using values will help you with clarity and decisiveness.
Bilanich, B. (2004). Leading with Values: 8 Common-Sense Leadership Strategies for Bringing Organizational Values to Life. Dallas, TX: Walk the Talk.
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