How Your Values Can Lead To Your Organization’s Success (pt. 1 – Values)
“Values are who you are, not who you think you should be in order to fit in.” – Debra Smouse
If you lead an organization (company, department, family, etc.), can your personal values have something to do with its success? The answer is no…it has EVERYTHING to do with its success! In this four-part blog post, I’ll start with values and, through a series of progressions, end with the success of your organization. The four parts of this blog are covered in both my keynote talk and team development workshop entitled “What IS Your Organization’s Culture Anyway?”
It all starts with your values.
In their book “Maximize Your Values: They Count in Everything You Do,” Amy Bailey and Liz Stubbs say this about values: “Our lives are shaped by the values we take seriously enough to practice.” I agree.
This picture was taken on Christmas day, 2012. That’s me with my grandmother, Gertrude Confer. All 14 of us grandchildren called her Gram. She was, is, and will always be one of my heroes. She and Grandpa taught me (and my aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, etc.) what running a values-based organization was all about. This was her last Christmas with us. She died the next September, one month short of her 98th birthday. She and Grandpa (he died in 1969) ran several successful ventures and every one of them was both founded and run on sound, uncompromising values.
Grandpa was a mechanic. He owned his own repair shop and 24-hour wrecker service on the main road that ran from Detroit to the northern part of Michigan. My mom tells me stories of waking up many mornings, coming downstairs, and finding entire families that she’d never met before sleeping on couches, mattresses, and sleeping bags in their small living room. How did these people get there? Well, these families were in cars that had broken down during the night and needed a tow. Grandpa or one of the boys had gone out on the wrecker call, hooked up the disabled car, and brought it (and the whole family) back to the house. This was long before online travel sites and multiple hotel chains strung along the Interstate. Heck, this was even before the Interstate was built! Not wanting to put these people out in the cold. Gram and Grandpa would put them up for the night. In the morning, Gram would even make them breakfast while Grandpa repaired their vehicle. This is one of a virtual laundry list of stories I could write here, but you get the idea.
What values do you think my grandparents used when running their business? A few that come to mind for me are service, compassion, honesty, and hard work. These were values that they were unwilling, and probably unable, to compromise and they taught them to their children, grandchildren, and members of their community.
Here is a chain that you need to remember:
Values >>> Decisions >>> Actions >>>Results
Your values are the lenses that you look at life through. They are the filters that help you make decisions. When you make decisions, you take some kind of action. When you take action, you get some kind of result or outcome.
This looks great on paper, but sometimes the decisions we make are not based on what we value. Rather, some decisions we make come from this place called “out in left field.” When we make decisions from out in left field, those that are close to us look at us with confused looks. Sometimes they get downright mad at us. Sometimes we have to apologize after making these decisions because the action we took produced results that nobody was happy about. This is why it’s critical to always make decisions based on what you truly value. Sometimes that means that you have to do something that’s counter to something else that may give the organization a better result. People with a strong sense of personal accountability can easily make these types of decisions. People respect that.
What do you really value? What are those things that you cannot and will not sacrifice when asked to do so? These are the values that you should be following when leading your organization.
In part 2 of this series, I’ll talk about culture. It’s an over-used, trendy, messy word. I’ll let you know how it can be easy to establish an organizational culture if you know what it is you truly value.
If you’d like to see any of my other blog posts, click here. Until next time…