Shared Values are Your Leadership Compass in Business and at Work


And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power…

 –From Merger Poem by Judy Chicago

In an organization that does not have stated / shared values, the following employee relations issues are at best murky to navigate:

  • Your star salesman who is at 130% of his bonus plan, and who treats everyone except his manager and his customers like hammered fecal matter to ensure that he keeps earning his bonus, not caring if anybody else’s bonus is negatively impacted;
  • Your corporate counsel who has saved your organization $2+ million, and who has also brought several of her staff members to tears in meetings (and who has fired several more without cause);
  • Your loyal staff accountant who has worked for the organization for 24 years, and who has helped himself to $60 of petty cash;
  • An employee who has terrible attendance without good / compliance-related reason(s) who is considered a “great” employer when they show up.

All of the above examples, if allowed to continue unchecked, are organizational cancers destroying morale, culture, recruitment, retention as well as reputation in the larger business and customer community. Add fear of conflict to the mix, and it’s a recipe for organizational break-down and business decline.

How do you dispel the murkiness of leadership indecision and inaction? Shared / stated values via an organizational visioning and/or strategic planning process. With these stated / shared values as the compass, leadership can decisively emerge:

  • When Respect is an organizational value, the corrective action for the disrespectful salesman and the difficult corporate counsel is clear: get better or get out;
  • When Honesty is an organizational value, the accountant who is responsible for protection of assets yet who steals $60 in petty cash is separated from the organization;
  • And when Accountability is an organizational value, showing up to work consistently is part of the performance of a great employee.

And even when there is an organizational values vacuum, individual executive, HR and front-line leaders can be the values change they wish to see in the larger organization by stating and sharing their leadership values consistently with their own immediate work teams.

How do you use stated / shared values as your compass guiding fair / consistent leadership and employee relations decisions in business and at work?

Values Puzzle Shows Principles, Morality And Ideology

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