„Putting values on laptop screens is bullshit“, my colleague explodes. We are in the middle of a heated discussion whether a company should communicate its values or not. While he is convinced that managers do “business as usual” without considering values at all – and hence, values don’t need to be listed – , I am arguing that the transparency about values is needed in order to get into this valuable conversations. Especially when there is a discrepancy between words and action.
I guess, you have been part in such a discussion as well – or at least bystander. Let me share some thoughts with you.
Leaders need to act first
I am convinced that leaders need to take the first step. They are the ones forming and building the culture for the whole team. Therefore, if you are a leader already, be aware that you are an example. Accept it.
I have heard many bosses say that they don’t consider their behavior and opinion as important – but this is a wrong perception. As a boss – even if you haven’t chosen that position by yourself – you are watched by your team. And they will check on your values. If you model a law-and-order-mentality, they will use it on their subordinates. If it’s fine in your team to talk behind people’s backs, this behavior will spread. If you are leading by sarcasm, don’t be surprised if your team doesn’t take you seriously.
In turn, I have seen positive values spread as well. Integrity, honesty and appreciation are forceful values that will lead your team to success and prosperity.
Since we are all human beings, we will make mistakes. We are not perfect. And we don’t have to be. If you have failed, admit it. Be open and ask for forgiveness when needed. This will also model your team in a positive way.
Follow your leader
If your leaders act upon their values, follow them. Copy their behavior and see if it works for you as well. By doing so, you are modeled and you will find your own emphasizes and core principles.
Also get into discussion with them and your team mates. What should be part of your culture and what can be adjusted? Use your time as a team mate as a “leader-in-the-making”-phase and define gradually what should be part of your personal value card.
Act as a leader – even when your boss doesn’t
“My boss isn’t a good role model”, is an argument I love to discuss about. Let me ask you this: “Do you believe, that you are (or: will be) a leader?”
Do you believe, that you are (or: will be) a leader?
If so, find your own values and act upon them. You can model a culture around you even if no one else does. This is the very core of a leader: good self-leadership. And it is independent from your current position in the company. You have to find your own way to express your values.
Getting back to the argument with the colleague about putting values on screens. We found common ground in the inner longing for alignment of words and action. And this includes our very own behavior. Instead of complaining about other not following certain values, let us be the ones led by inner principles.
Therefore, let’s take the challenge to define your very own set of values and how you want to act upon them. Then find a company you want to influence. And if this company writes the values on screens, be the one example that is living the words.