Changing culture by shifting leadership from power based to a value based leadership approach
As leaders we have the power to influence people and events. Leaders are increasingly those that inspire or persuade us to follow a specific course. It isn’t always a title that empowers leaders to change things, or get the right things done.
The old line authority style based on “making people do things” and clever manipulation and jargon filled strategies is reducing in effectiveness. The world has changed and we are less willing to take orders blindly. We have begun to discovering we have choices in a global market and we are finding that we have a voice that can make a difference (often through social media). As leaders we have to become more aware of the impact of our actions, as mistakes can easily go viral.
As we become more aware of the value of our contributions we want to be a more integral part of the solution. The value based style of leadership aims to align our strengths and talents with the pursuit of meaningful and inclusive strategic goals. We want to make a difference in the world, leave it a better place, and not just perpetuate a past that believes “the sole purpose of business is to maximise profit.” The rise of legislation (Twin Peaks), the new TCF regulatory approach, and the rising voices of people wanting to participate in crafting a better world has led to this increase in effectiveness of a values based leadership style. Organisations that hold a short-sighted “profit only” view are now far more likely to receive a negative backlash on social media, and are starting to struggling to retain talented employees. Businesses that are clear about their purpose, one we can believe in, tend to have more loyal and engaged employees and followers. Participation and innovation are easier to encourage in engaged employees than indentured workers.
Value based leadership is characterised by a commitment to service, meeting the needs of others, and demonstrating their values in the way we behave. Value based organisations go beyond talking about their values or putting up posters. Their values are demonstrated daily in the way they do business. Value based organisations communicate their vision in a clear, engaging manner that inspires people to a higher purpose. They go beyond “Culture change bandaids”, “screen saver values”, or a pretty pictures that most ignore.
Organisational values are reflected in how we do business, particularly by those in positions of power. Value based leadership tends to rate listening and coaching as some of their most valuable tools. They believe their success is measured by the degree that the organisation has developed, and as a result of the growth of the individuals they lead. Value Based Leadership engages the imagination of those they lead, inspires hope, creativity and resourcefulness. This helps produce an innovative and agile organisation we are proud to belong to. A key element common to values based leaders is their ability to unite us in a common vision of a better world. Treating Customers Fairly TCF is a value that helps create a sustainable business when we engage the imagination of our people in living it each day.
Consider the inspirational leaders who have shaped you. Those who have influenced us to become a better and more creative versions of ourselves. Think of the values they demonstrated daily and how their examples have inspired us. Whether Mother Theresa, Ghandi or Nelson Mandela they have helped shape the world. But, there are numerous other influential people in all areas of life (social, government and private sectors) who’s names we will never know. Not all inspirational leaders are well known, but their influence is felt.
We all have an opportunity to influence each other daily – our children, families, colleagues and even our bosses. Leadership is becoming more and more a process of influencing rather than “Telling them what to do” as the lecture style of leadership tends to cause more disengagement and resistance than progress.
Value based leadership has the power to directly impact the triple bottom line – people, planet, profits
We want to feel like we matter to our organisations, not only at a functional or intellectual level, but also at an emotional level. Feel that they care about us, and the society we live in. A key driver is the need to belong, and to know that we make a difference. When an organisation’s vision actively inspires us, it makes us want to participate in making changes for the better. When we have leaders who actively seek to engage us through demonstrating daily how these shared values can be lived, 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 additional examples of value based organisations that produce consistent impressive bottom-line results in difficult market conditions. Increasingly it is values based leaders that are speaking up and saying that “if it doesn’t fit with our vision and our values, it’s not the right decision.”
Culture is a result of what we do every day.
Will you go beyond jargon and translating your organisational TCF values into real day-to-day behaviours? Living our values is a real way to positively impact our organisational culture.
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