Are your values paper tigers?
Working with values has been rocketing for years; it is quite a hot topic.
Usually, it is the top management that goes through his exercise and determines a set of values. Then these values are communicated to all employees. Many companies or government organizations often open all registers: professional posters, cards, brochures, video messages and all kinds of reminders are skilfully spread all over the organization. After that, the formal internal communication machine is switched on: major assemblies, breakfast sessions, meetings and so on.
In this ideal scenario, because there are many which keep it limited to just a few modest steps, no cost or effort is spared to convey the message. Great is the disappointment when it turns out afterwards that the average employee is unable to repeat the values, let alone tell what they mean in concrete terms. Values have become paper tigers…
Based on our experiences with dozens of value projects over the past ten years, we would like to share some tips with you:
- Values are strategic items and must be formulated in terms of mission and strategic objectives.
- Determining the values is a matter of top management and no practice in democracy.
- The management’s exemplary function is important: they must be the first to explain the values to their immediate employees and formulate clear expectations.
- All executives and employees must be involved in translating the values into specific behavioural characteristics.
- Working with values is not a “project”, but a cultural feature. In all aspects, the values must be integrated: recruitment of new employees, internal promotion, commercial communication, etc.
The power of personal values
How is your self-knowledge? Do you have a clear picture of what is important for your life and what is less or not important? In other words: do you have a list of personal values with a hierarchy? For a manager, this is essential. The better you know who you are and what matters to you, what values you strive for, the better you make good decisions in a complex and contradictory organization environment.
People can only be motivated and involved in an organization if their tasks and activities are in line with their personal priorities.
Tip: make a list of 10 personal values and let your employees create such a list too. Discuss these value lists with each other. It will remarkably improve mutual understanding and cooperation.
The authors James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner turn to 30 years of research – over 1 million answers from leaders all around the world – to determine 10 fundamental truths about leadership. These are still, and regardless of the situation, applicable.
It is no coincidence that attention is also paid to commitment driven by values.
These ten truths about leadership are:
- You make a difference: before you lead, you have to believe that you can have a positive impact on others.
- Credibility is the foundation of leadership: if people don’t believe in you, they won’t willingly follow you.
- Values drive commitment: people have to know what you stand for and what you believe in. You must know the values of the others so you bring those in line with the organizational values.
- Focusing on the future sets leaders apart: create a view of an inspiring future and share it with the others.
- You can’t do it alone: leadership is a team sport, leaders care about what is best for others, not about what is best for themselves.
- Trust rules: it keeps individuals and groups together. The level of trust is decisive for your influence. Trust must be earned before they grant it to you.
- Challenge is the crucible of greatness: great achievements don’t happen when you keep things the same.
- You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all: deliver on your promises and be a role model when it comes to values and agreements.
- The best leaders are the best learners.
- Leadership is an affair of the heart: making others feel great and show appreciation. A leader is connected with the organization through their heart.
These ten truths may seem quite natural, applying them isn’t.
The Truth about Leadership