Last week we held the Raise the Bar session with the CEO’s and Senior Leaders of Leadership: Chicago. The heart of the discussion was about values. We talked about what they are, why the mattered, who defines then and whether or not they make a difference.
- Surprising Learning #1 – values always exist; the question is whether they are intentional, accidental or hypocritical.
- Surprising Learning #2 – It doesn’t matter who creates them; it matters how they are defined and lived out. Research shows that whether values are created by a democratic process with employees or defined by leadership, the reason for success or failure is connected to how well they are defined. Are there specific behaviors that make it clear what each value means and does every employee from the top to the bottom of the organization live in accordance with those definitions?
- Surprising Learning #3 – there is always a cost; the question is whether you want to pay now or later. Volkswagen is a great example of a company that chose to pay later. They violated values and are paying a price.
- Surprising Learning #4 – values inspire people, rules squash ethical engagement (and people look for ways around them.) You can never make enough rules to cover all potential situations. The more rules you have; the less compliance you get with them. This is why lived out values are so impactful, they create the “playing field” within which people can do their work.
- Surprising Learning #5 – there is no magic number; as few as one and as many as six. Ken Blanchard advocated for three values. The reality is that you need to keep it simple enough to remember and sufficienct enough to serve the purpose of defining HOW you do your work.
Next week, we’ll share the conversation we had about the development and implementation of values. We learned a great way of ensuring that the values become a way of life. We also talked about the dangers of auto-pilot values. Stay tuned to learn more about this valuable topic.