In every organization, regardless of size, values take root from the top down.
It rarely, if ever, works the other way. Grass roots movements to shift a company culture, to align the values of the leaders of the company with the values of it’s employees, can only go so far. Even attempts to get leaders to take real action on their own stated company values fail in the absence of a willingness to use those values in meaningful ways.
Eventually, leaders have to walk the talk and live the values in their daily actions, with every single decision they make, or all you have are pretty words in an employee manual. In those all to prevalent situations, the positive energy the words on the page were designed to create becomes a strong negative force that eventually infects the entire organization. You can’t ignore it. Values are that powerful.
You would be wrong to think this is just a big company problem.
It’s actually magnified and accelerated in smaller companies. A single leader’s actions can have a more dramatic impact. There are far fewer places to hide. In small companies there may be several people who are identified by everyone as leaders, but there is often only one true leader. This person usually can’t be fired. Regardless of what the “official” corporate values statement says, [pq align=right]the daily actions of the general are the true “go to war” values in any company[/pq].
You have your own go to war values, even if you’re not the general. Your war simply looks different. You can choose to stay at the company and fight the inevitable internal skirmishes that come from misaligned values, or leave to find a new battlefield, under a different general. Or go be your own general.
“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier,” Roy Disney.
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Featured image License: Some rights reserved by Jayel Aheram
Bill Leider says
Jeff, Well stated.
I believe that a major reason that an organization whose Brand is at odds with its Core Values is not sustainable over the long run relates to what you discussed in your post. People whose Values are at odds with those of the organization are not inspired, they just show up. When people just show up, creativity dries up. When people just show up, energy becomes drudgery. When people just show up, enthusiasm becomes ennui. If you are one of those people who doesn’t share your organization’s Values – you are a square peg in a round hole; you are leading what Thoreau called a “life of quiet desperation.”
Jeff, I think you’ve sounded a needed wake up call to anyone who is really listening – listening through the ears of their soul – and not just saying, “Interesting, good information Jeff.”
I fight a war on complacency.
Jeff Turner says
I would argue that is still a values battle.