Values have tremendous impact on decision-making in an organization. They provide a lighthouse that guides actions, decisions, and innovation that can change the course of an organization. As a leader, you play a big role in shaping those values and leveraging them to influence members of your organization.
Here are seven ways you can be intentional about leveraging values to lead your organization to a high level of efficiency and effectiveness.
First, Define Your Personal Values
Even if you cannot list your personal values off the top of your head, you live by them every day. You prioritize some things over others — family over money, hard work over laziness, serving others over serving yourself, etc. Defining your personal values will help to give you a clear sense of identity. Personal values give you a foundation from which to build your own unique leadership style as well as create the values of your organization.
Make Sure Your Values Align With The Values Of Your Organization
When your own personal values align with the values of your organization, you will fit into the organization’s culture more easily and cultivate good work relationships. You are able to commit whole-heartedly to the achievement of the organization’s goals, and this enhances your productivity.
Misalignment between your personal values and those of your organization creates conflict with other staff members and with the essence of the organization, causing deep dissatisfaction both for you and other members of your team. If the organization’s values are irreconcilable with yours, it may be in your best interest, as well as the organization’s, to plan your exit.
Define And Communicate The Values Of Your Organization
Does your organization have a list of core values? If not, creating one is the first and most important step in transforming your organization with values. By defining what your organization stands for and what it values, you give the organization and its employees a North Star that guides decisions, behaviors, and growth going forward.
Discuss the core values of the organization at every opportunity. Repetition helps plant information in the subconscious, which makes it part of our behavior on autopilot. Also, tell stories of people that have demonstrated the company’s core values. Stories, repeated often enough, become legends.
Model Your Organization’s Values
In their book The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, James Pouzes and Barry Posner discuss The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. The first is “Model the Way.” There is great dissonance in leadership when the actions of leaders contradict the stated values of the organization. Group members get the message, “The stated values are for window dressing. It’s okay to do what you like.”
For example, the leaders of an organization should not ask staff to reduce expenses if they are not willing to make any sacrifices, themselves. When leaders model the organization’s values, employees are more likely to model them, too, making it easier to achieve the consistency necessary to achieve the organization’s goals.
Recruit People Who Align With Your Organization’s Values
Hiring people that don’t align with your organization’s values can do a lot of damage before you even realize there’s a problem. For example, hiring a manager that thinks it’s OK to cut corners when integrity is a core value can damage your brand reputation quickly.
The hiring process should test not only for competence, but also for character. Character can be difficult to measure, but it can be assessed using behavioral interview questions. Does this person’s character match up with the core values of the organization? If so, proceed with the hire. During the employee’s probation period, assess alignment with the organization’s values to be doubly sure that every hire is a good fit.
Reward Alignment With Values
It is easy for the culture of your organization to fall into disarray during bursts of growth and expansion. To keep the core value train on the rails in challenging times, publicly reward alignment with your core values, and privately punish misalignment. This will encourage every member of your staff to stay consistent in the way they use the core values of the organization in their professional lives. Anyone who refuses to exemplify the values of the organization should be advised to leave or be shown the way out.
Relate With Partners With Similar Values
A successful entrepreneur once described how a major auto manufacturing company discovered that all of its distributors in his country were falsifying records, except him. They canceled all the other distributorships and made this entrepreneur the sole distributor in that country.
When you do business with partners that share your values, business is streamlined, your reputation is more secure, and you’re more likely to find positive ways to expand your partnership and your profits together. Relating with partners and vendors whose values do not align with your organization’s can cost your company its reputation and much more.
Values Drive Success
When you lead your organization from a “value-first” perspective, it creates an environment where making critical decisions is easier, a positive culture is defined, and your organization’s capacity to fulfill its vision and mission is stronger than ever.