Leadership Training Values! Who Cares?
Leadership Training Who cares about values! This is what I used to think. Can anyone relate? Then, by ignoring my values, it did get too much and one day…………………..I blew a fuse! When I was at this point, feeling totally exhausted and frustrated, I started doing some soul searching and, guess what I found buried at my core, my values? And, my values did not relate in any way to the company values. My values had literally been blown up as no one had bothered to consider the ongoing importance of values. Now, I know you are a leader and, you want to make a difference, so it is crucial that you and the people you lead pay close attention to your values. By doing this you will keep people “on the bus” as this is a sign of true success.
MORE PEOPLE at the PARTY!
An article by Sarah Fister Gale in Chief Learning Officer, refers to “The values-driven leader.” Over the past two years, dozens of CEOs have quit or been fired due to embarrassing behaviour, workplace affairs or political comments that 10 years ago would likely have gone unnoticed. They are being forced to think about employee mental health, well-being and sense of inclusion as a driver for productivity and engagement and also, to make tough decisions when profits and employee needs don’t align. Here’s 4 ways they suggest to be a values driven leader:
- Be authentic. Jeff Hollander is another CEO who welcomes this shift. He and friend Paul Pirner launched Hairless Dog Brewing Co., a non-alcoholic brewing company in Minneapolis, in 2018. “It is hard to be authentic but it’s worth it because it means we have a product that resonates with people,” Hollander says.
- Legacy of burnout. The shift to authentic, employee-focused leadership training doesn’t come as easily for everyone. Consider Malte Scholz, CEO of Airfocus, a SaaS provider based in Hamburg, Germany. As an entrepreneur, Scholz’s biggest driver was always to deliver the highest performance possible, regardless of circumstances. “Loosening the criteria relieved the pressure, which turned out to be the key for high performance,” he says.
- Off the fast-track. Scholz isn’t alone in discovering the productivity benefits of giving employees the space and support they need to do their best work. It is what spurred Kelly Culhane to launch Culhane Meadows in 2013, and to build it into the largest woman-owned law firm in the nation.
- Beyond quotas. That kind of shift in leadership training thinking is rapidly becoming the norm as executives discover that treating employees with respect and aligning company strategy with core values results in a more loyal and engaged workforce.
Executives can no longer ignore these trends or assume that setting hiring quotas or publishing sustainability reports will be enough to prove that they are living their company’s values. This expectation for value-driven leadership will only be amplified as Gen Z floods the workplace. This generation of workers are more diverse than any prior generation, and they have high expectations that their peers and employers be equally diverse, inclusive and vocal about their values.
Leaders who want to attract this generation of workers — and build a resilient business for the future — need to be proactive about building supportive and diverse cultures, or risk losing their best people.
Authenticity and Leadership
In my blog, I referred to being true to yourself and having strong values that you stick by is essential if you want to be a great, authentic leader! Being a leader means people are watching you all the time to see whether you act consistently and practice what you preach. It’s important to sit down and figure out what you value; not just in work, but in life as well. You also need to remember that everyone has values, and a lot of us value integrity – especially in our leaders! You can’t be an effective leader without trust, so be authentic and stick to your values. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not!
FOCUS on VALUES = SUCCESS in 2021
Edward Tuorinsky a Forbes Council Member outlined in Forbes, “Three Values That Will Define Successful Leaders In 2021.” Leading my team from home for nearly a year has given me time to think — and stress — about what makes us as leaders be our best. It’s given me a new perspective to study others, too, and I’ve noticed a few things about organizations that have weathered the storm well. This thinking revealed to me the one thing leaders can do better in 2021: Lead with values.
This year, I think we’ll see a wave of companies returning to core values. I’m not talking about lip service via press releases and taglines, but actually relating business decisions to core values. One of the strongest factors driving my thinking is a noticeable pattern of success. I’ve observed that organizations with a strong sense of purpose and clear values aren’t just surviving through change and upheaval; they’re thriving. We know that shared values are an essential factor in resilience. During the spring shutdowns in 2020, I watched companies that clearly put trust and value in their employees ask their teams to reimagine their business model and customer interactions so they could move forward.
Zeroing in on core values makes strategic sense, too. Focusing on the fundamentals — your values — can return clarity and purpose to a flagging workforce. Aligning new efforts to the things that haven’t changed allows even the most shattered businesses to take baby steps. Organizations doing better than expected this past year aren’t in that position because they launched an aggressive social transformation plan. I believe they are simply living out their values. It’s a formula that any company can follow and any leader can implement. As we look at the challenges still ahead of us in the “new normal,” I propose focusing on three universal values:
- Honesty. As an organizational value, honesty is not just about telling the truth (though that is very important); it’s also about being authentic.
- Transparency. I define “transparency” as operating so that it is easy for others to see what actions are being taken. Transparency is essential to building trust.
- Kindness. Kindness has traditionally been the antithesis of being business-minded. However, I believe you can be kind and successful. Kindness can have a long-acting impact that transcends the business world, and that’s why it’s so powerful for leaders to show. You can deliver bad news and still be kind. Years from now, people might not remember all the details of our tough environment or the no-win decisions we are facing, but they will likely remember kindness.
Leaders who return to core values can become a beacon in the dark. Embrace these values in yourself. Evangelize them in your organization. Count on them to prevail.
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