Years ago, I met with the CEO/Owner and the Executive Vice President of a potential client that shall remain nameless for this story. This executive was itching to make quick revenue for his company and decided, since I was recommended by his golfing buddy, to chat with me about my leadership program. Our conversation quickly turned to the importance of organizational values that leaders recognize as necessary for successful companies. If you could script the conversation, what do you think our topics might be? We spoke of commitment to employees, product excellence, exceptional customer service, and personal and professional ethics and integrity. When I mentioned integrity, the CEO cackled, “We could sure use some of that around here!” The little bit of hair still left on my head stood at attention! At the time I honestly thought he was joking. I’m here to tell you he was very serious! A year later, it didn’t come as a surprise to me when that same CEO was physically removed from the premises for embezzling.
By understanding and communicating the organization’s values, the leader is accountable for role modeling behaviors that match the organizational principles to live by. If your organization has not established and communicated written organizational principles to live by, then everyone will doing business for themselves without proper guidance. As a leader, you must create a set of values or principles to guide appropriate behaviors and remind people daily of their importance.
With my clients, I recommend starting with the most universal and foundational values possible: build a trusting environment, take care of each other, take care of customers, and achieve your goals with integrity. If your values are contrary to those of the company paying your salary, more than likely you won’t last there very long. If leaders in the organization violate these fundamental principles, one day you might see them in orange jumpsuits picking up trash under the watchful eye of an officer with a shotgun!
What values are in your personal mission statement? Think more globally about the culture of your workplace, what values are most important and non-negotiable for your organization?
“The tyrant is only the slave turned inside out.”