Value Based Leadership
Value Based Leadership
Why value-based leadership?
I have personally worked with thousands of managers, and most of them weren’t aware about the essential, foundational, and uppermost importance of Values.
Values are indispensable in the success of any organization—small and big—like your family, your team, your company, your country, etc.
Values are at the root of the success of the team you lead.
This is why you must make them explicit.
Here I talk about:
- What values are not
- Values' characteristics
- What values are for
- What values need
- Typical mistake
- How to create them
Values are the “sacred” core and emotional convictions / beliefs your direct reports have about how they must behave within the team you lead.
In other words, your team’s values are the behavioral guidelines in the fulfillment of your team’s mission.
What values are not
Core values are not operating practices, business strategies, or cultural norms.
Core values per se are not the culture, but they shape your team's culture.
Core values don’t change.
Since values are a small system of timeless guiding principles, values should be unchanging—they are the enduring character of an organization (the team you lead in this case).
Hence, your team should not change them in response to recent changes in your company, or in the economy, or in global market trends.
Their real usefulness does not lie so much in their intrinsic nature (in what they are), but rather, in how much your direct reports actually behave according them.
In other words, of course it is important what values you choose for your team, but it is much more important that your direct reports actually behave according to them, consistently.
Value based leadership is as much a management philosophy as it is an execution practice.
What values are for
Values guide behavior—they guide the behavior of all your direct reports on a daily basis.
What values need
Values—in order to be effective—need several things:
They need to be crystal-clearly understood, bought in, and embraced by all your direct reports.
You—as the leader of the team you lead—must role model them in an ongoing basis.
You—as the leader of the team you lead—must communicate them in an ongoing basis.
You—as the leader of the team you lead—must manage the performance of your direct reports according to them.
I repeat: Your team’s effectiveness lies in how much your team actually lives them—their effectiveness lies in the genuineness with which they are lived by all your direct reports.
In one word: Your team’s espoused values and the actual every day enacted values by everybody inside your team must be one and the same.
This is a most unfortunate mistake; nevertheless, it is a common one:
When your behavior—as the leader of the team you lead—is inconsistent with your team’s values.
What happens when your walk doesn’t match your talk?
When values are only espoused but not enacted, they become the source of mistrust, cynicism, and low performance.
Value based leadership requires integrity.
How to create them
There are two schools of thought here:
THE FIRST ONE argues that your team’s values already exist inside your team.
All you need to do is to unearth them, to discover them, to guarantee their legitimacy.
This school of thought argues that if you confuse values that you think your team ought to have—but doesn’t have—with your legitimate enacted current values, you would create cynicism in your team.
THE SECOND school of thought contends that certain values help your team’s performance much more than others, and as such, you should change your team’s values—and your culture—when necessary.
Which school of thought should you follow?
Which one makes the most sense to you?
If you asked me, what would I tell you?
Based on my empirical experience working in the field or organizational behavior for 30 years, including large-scale change management and corporate leadership development, I am convinced—without a shadow of a doubt—that certain values help your team’s performance much more than others.
What specific values?
To be precise, three values: Humility, integrity, and respect.
In any case, value based leadership is about decisiveness, conviction, and execution.
Whatever path you decide to follow, focus on implementing it well.
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