Everybody loves a touchy-feely statement of values.
Sites like Pinterest are littered with beautifully designed values pieces. An industry has been built around selling motivational posters based on popular, ethical values. They’re inspirational and aspirational. They make us feel good. Often, however, they don’t represent reality.
Too many companies have values that are not in line with popular, ethical values. Of course, that’s not what their website will say, or the sign in their reception area. It’s one thing to have a “We Value Mutual Respect” sign prominently displayed to visitors, it’s quite another to actually live that value in a way that makes the sign redundant. Values are more accurately displayed in actions, than in words. Often values are confused with morals or ethics and treated as statements of hope, not as an accurate reflection of the actions of the organization.
Todd Carpenter shared the following video in his post, There Are No Glenngarry leads.” He used the clip as an illustration for not making excuses for “bad leads” and to drive home the point that, “if every lead was gold, these companies (Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, et al) would figure out how to keep them for themselves, or they would charge a heck of a lot more for them.” Of course, not everyone will see the video or their “leads” that way.
What I saw in the video was something different. I saw a good example of clearly articulated values in action. The following clip is NOT SAFE FOR WORK. If you’re easily offended, you can skip to the text below. However, watching it will help you understand my point.
“Nice guy? I don’t give a shit,” Blake says in the clip. “Good father? F***K you, go home and play with your kids. You want to work here? Close! You think this is abuse?” That depends on your perspective. More accurately, however, Blake, played by Alec Baldwin, was simply and clearly articulating his values and the values of the company leaders who sent him. And he gave them teeth by adding, “You don’t like it? Leave.”
“Go to war” values.
“You don’t like it? Leave.” The values that matter are the values we’re willing to fight over. If you can’t say, “I will let someone go if they are unwilling to live these values,” then those values don’t really matter. They won’t have any power. And this is true whether the value is “always be closing” or “mutual respect.” What matters is whether you can and are willing to enforce them.
Regardless of how you feel about the quality of the values displayed by Alec Baldwin’s character in that clip, and I’m certainly not a fan, there are lessons to be learned. Inspirational, aspirational, or otherwise, in the end, whatever values you subscribe to are largely impotent unless they’re accompanied by a conscious plan tied to making them a reality in your organization. Blake had a plan.
What did Blake do right in that video?
- He defined the company values and clearly described how they should be lived.
- He made the values, “go to war” values. He focused only on the values that he was willing and able to enforce.
- He disseminated those values and required that the agents were to live them.
- He explained how he would measure desired behaviors.
- He explained how he would reward desired behaviors.
What are your go to war values? How have you communicated them? How will you measure them? How will you reward them?