Few topics have received more attention than “Leadership” in the business literature. From the analytical to the mythical, advice and entertainment abounds. We will therefore focus on the minimum set that we know – as far as anyone can actually know anything related to human behavior – to be true. Shared values are one of these.
Some values are objectively right, and some are subjective. Honesty is an example of the former, while competitiveness is an example of the latter. Thoughtful, pragmatic people do not argue about whether there is value in truth. However, in some groups, competition is highly valued, yet in others, collaboration is preferred. As a leader, your values and how you live them must be consistent with the values of those you lead. Imagine a hedge fund intent on dominating Wall St. Imagine a yoga studio intent on enlightening the world. Both may be wildly successful, but it is difficult to imagine the same leader succeeding in each context.
Who you are as a leader is nature, nurture, and erudition. There is no such thing as changing the values of an organization without changing its people… including its leader, so get this right from the outset.
Observe the world through a values lens. It won’t take long to see how fundamental values are to humans, how powerful they are when aligned, and how damaging they are when misaligned.
How to identify, articulate, and communicate your company’s values.