Leading with VALUE
Have you thought about how you can make a difference at work, in your community or globally? What do you feel is the defining point that will make this happen? The challenges of 2020 are opening our eyes to the need for values based leadership and we are seeing amazing inroads through young leaders showing us the way. When we lead with value and purpose we gather followers for a common cause and things will happen. Your leadership journey can be the change you want to see!
Leadership with VALUE will change the WORLD
The World Economic Forum highlights that “Young leaders are showing us the way.” Young leaders have important things to say about how we can create a more just and sustainable future focusing on the following:
- The social, economic and environmental challenges of the 2020s which require new approaches to leadership and responsibility.
- Organizations that display Responsible Leadership are more likely to outperform their peers, boosting financial performance.
- Interviews with Young Global Leaders and Global Shapers indicate a common thread – a high commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.
The compounding economic, health, and social crises of the past year have exposed and further exacerbated inequalities in society. Activating Responsible Leadership is crucial to realizing equity and creating shared success for all stakeholders. This is both a human and business imperative – according to Accenture’s 2020 COVID-19 research, saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened the need for greater business responsibility to improve societal and environmental outcomes. Even more striking is that it’s also personal: roughly one in two workers agree that the ethical, sustainable, and moral values that a company holds will become more important to them after the pandemic passes. Workers and consumers alike are demanding that organizations create value while leading with values.
Our research on Seeking New Leadership shows that organizations that display Responsible Leadership are more likely to outperform their peers, boosting financial performance, trust and sustainability, and continuous innovation. Five fundamental elements define what it means to lead responsibly. Recent interviews with the Young Global Leaders and Global Shapers communities at the World Economic Forum indicate a common thread – a high commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, ensuring that actions meet the needs of the many, rather than just the few. Here is a sample of what we learned:
- Stakeholder Inclusion: Consider your broader stakeholder set and ensure they are included in your conversations and feel valued.
- Emotion & Intuition: Put yourself in the shoes of others to understand what they’re going through – and use this to inform your decisions.
- Mission & Purpose: Reflect the diversity of your stakeholders to enable you to stay true to your core purpose.
- Technology & Innovation: Activate inclusive innovation through a virtuous cycle, where one enables the other.
- Intellect & Insight: Learn continuously by listening to multiple perspectives and co-creating better solutions.
Every voice has the power to change the world and we are grateful for these young leaders’ insights into how to create a more just and sustainable future. They have important things to say and, as we move into 2021, it benefits us all to listen.
The VALUE in values
Carley Sime talks about in Forbes “The Power of Values in Leadership.” In business, values are two-fold. You have the values that define an organization. Values at this level serve to show the spectrum of stakeholders – both internal and external – what the organization is about. They also tend to influence the culture and climate of the workplace. You then have the values that define you as an individual. When we work and lead with values in mind we can reduce complexity, struggle and stress at work. Our organization’s values and our own – providing they are compatible – offer us a reliable and guiding foundation which we can use to orientate ourselves, our aims and our decisions.
So how do we lead and make decisions in this way? First, we need to know our own values, the values of our organization and understand the state and interaction of both. Use the questions below to raise some insight:
- Do your personal values align with those of your workplace?
- Is the work you do already noticeably guided by a combination of these personal and professional values? If not why do you think this is?
- Are the values threaded strongly through the culture and climate at work?
- If they are, how does this benefit? If they aren’t, are there any areas where you think they could and should be more influential?
Now you understand the lay of the land you can go on to think about how you can let values guide more of your leadership behaviour and decision making. Here are a few ideas:
- Communicate with yourself and the people around you about your why.
- Comes to terms with the exposure.
- Consciously connect with values.
- Look out for how you’re feeling.
- Encourage a values-based culture.
Leading and making decisions based on values has many positive benefits, it’s a great thing to pass these down to those you manage too.
Is ‘NICE’ a LEADERSHIP Value?
In an earlier blog I spoke about “When being “Nice” can backfire in Leadership.” At one stage I started thinking about “nice” and the impact of this on myself and what is important to me: the times I had been taken advantage of for being nice. Now being nice is different to being kind which is core of mine and my company’s value sets.
We’re taught from a young age to “play nice” if we don’t want to find ourselves in trouble. Being “nice” is a huge part of our upbringing. Believe me, as we grow older, these early messages can turn into unconscious scripts that impact our personal and professional lives. So how nice should a leader be? If you’re too nice you risk being a complete pushover; you might keep an employee which you take off the bus, you might see deadlines come and go, you might become friends with your employees at the expense of being able to give them tough feedback.
Being an empathetic, kind person who cares about their employees is one thing; being afraid of letting someone go who is underperforming or not suited for a position is where “nice” and “leadership” should truly part ways. You can impact the health of your company or team or even own career simply because being nice is easier, more comfortable. In turn, what if your value system says as a leader, “I should always be nice”? It’s important to redefine what “nice” means when it relates to leadership. Nice needs to be redefined i.e. positive and kind leadership. These qualities are about cultivating warmth, accountability, approachability, and compassion, which go beyond the singular quality of being nice. Here are some tips to help you in being a strong and “nice” leader:
- Look at your relationship in a nice context
- Look at your values as a leader
- Avoid the big behavioural shift
- Get a coach
When you know a leader is committed to operating from a set of values based on interpersonal kindness, he or she sets the tone for the entire organisation. Kind, and positive leadership involves taking the time to get to know your people, being empathetic, approachable and compassionate, but also being mindful of the goals and outcomes you need to achieve.
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Stay Kind. Stay Courageous.