There is a shift in the leadership paradigm, from a power based model of leadership, to a values based leadership model
As leaders, whether we are a CEO, a Manager or just a member of a team we have the power to influence people and events. Leaders don’t always have a title that gives them the power to change things or get things done. Increasingly leaders are those that inspire or persuade people to follow a specific course. The old style power model based on “making people do things,” using line authority as a motivator for action, manipulation and clever strategies is reducing in effectiveness. The world is changing and we are less willing to be told what to do. We are discovering we have choices in a global market and we are finding we have a voice (through social media). Leaders have to be far more aware of the impact of their actions as the impact can be instant and viral. As we become more aware, and more empowered, we increasingly want to be part of the solution, we want to utilise our strengths and talents in pursuit of meaningful work.
We want to make a difference and not just perpetuate the “old style” approach to business that suggests “the sole purpose of business is to maximise profit.” Organisations that take this greedy and simplistic approach to business are far more likely to receive a negative backlash on social media, and will increasingly struggle to retain talented employees. Businesses that have a passion and purpose we can believe in tend to have more loyal and engaged employees and followers. Innovation and creativity are also easier to encourage in engaged employees than indentured workers.
Values based leadership is characterised by a commitment to be of service, to meet the needs of others and to demonstrate the values in their behaviour. Values based organisations have clearly stated values that are demonstrated in the way they do business. These organisations have committed to these values and they are not just “Culture change bandaids”, ”post-it” note values, or a screen saver with pretty pictures that most people ignore. Instead, value based organisations have a clear vision that is compelling, and that inspires people to higher purpose. Organisational values are visibly reflected in both the talk and the walk of the leaders in positional power. These values based leaders rate listening and coaching as some of their most important tools. Success is measured in how each of us has grown and how the organisation has developed as a result of this individual growth. Values Based Leadership inspires hope in others, engages their imagination, creativity and resourcefulness to produce an innovative and agile organisation they are proud to belong to. A key characteristic of values based leaders is their ability to unite people in a common vision of a better world.
Take a moment to remember the inspirational leaders in your life, those who have influenced you to become your best and most creative self. Recall the values they lived and demonstrated daily and how their example has influenced and shaped your life. Mother Theresa, Ghandi, Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela are some of the more well known names that come to mind when we think of inspirational service leadership, but there are numerous other examples in all areas of life (social, government and private sectors).
We are all continuously influencing others around us, our children, our families, our colleagues and even our bosses. More and more leadership is becoming an influencing process. Too much “Telling them what to do” causes disengagement and resistance.
Values based leadership positively impacts the triple bottom line – people, planet, profits
We want to feel connected to our organisations, not only at the intellectual level but also (and possibly more importantly) at an emotional level. A fundamental drive of human beings is to belong and to feel that we make a difference. When our organisation’s vision is inspiring, strives for the greater good, and our leaders actively seek to connect us to that vision, demonstrating daily how these shared values can guide every action, then a strong shared identity is formed – and we are inspired to give our best.
Research also shows a clear ROI for values supported leadership. Increasingly more organisations such as American Express are taking the step towards values based leadership; they run feedback reviews on their leaders based on how they demonstrate the company’s values in their every day actions. Southwest Airlines, Starbucks and Zappos are examples of value based organisations that consistently produce positive bottom-line results. Increasingly these values based leaders are beginning to say that if it doesn’t fit with our vision and our values, it’s not the right decision.
When will you begin going beyond jargon and translating your organisational values into day-to-day behaviours? Culture is an exponential function of what we do every day. Living your values is an effective way to positively impact your organisational culture.
Latest posts by Richard Riche (see all)
- Harnessing the power of psychological safety at work - 2 January 2019
- 5 keys to creating sustainable continuous improvement - 19 November 2018
- Using organisational voice to support Change Communication - 28 September 2018