Click here for Leadership I: What’s All the Fuss About Leadership?

Click here for Leadership II: It’s All About Influence

Click here for Leadership III: Leadership is Not Management

Click here for Leadership IV: Build a Leadership Character

Leadership-VIf a man’s associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. — Dwight D. Eisenhower

I remember the comment as if it were yesterday. As a high school teacher, I had been invited to a school Shabbaton at an area hotel. The facility sat on a sprawling property and its layout was unconventional to say the least, which made navigation from one place to another a bit challenging. At one point, I pointed the group that I was with in the wrong direction before someone realized the error. Not too pleased with his incompetent navigator, this guy quipped, “at least you weren’t tasked to lead the Jews through the midbar.” Needless to say, it was one of my humbler moments.

We noted above that a key component of leadership is influence. Leaders understand that their role is to inspire others and lead them towards a desired outcome. But how can leaders themselves be sure that they have set along the correct path, particularly when there appears to be more than one viable way forward?

One way is to lead from values. Values are the core components of a person’s deepest beliefs, the concepts that they hold most dear and should drive decision making. When a leader takes the time to identify her deepest values she is likelier to remain consistent in her actions and choices. Moreover, if she is effective in articulating her values then others will understand her reasoning and, more often than not, be more inclined to support her process.

As leaders, we are given many opportunities to choose between possible actions and reactions. While we hopefully have our own values clearly articulated to drive such decision making, our colleagues and coworkers don’t always share those same values and priorities.

Creating a shared sense of values may not be as challenging as would first appear. For starters, gather your team together for a conversation. Offer them a values list such as this one. Focus on company values and narrow down the list to a core group that can help direct future decision making. Then, send the list around for clarification and confirmation. Once confirmed, publicize the list. At a future meeting, present scenarios so that everyone can discuss the situation in the context of the values that they have selected.

So, for example, the company has embraced a respectful work environment that prioritizes personal well-being and family over the pursuit of profits. Present a scenario in which these values are threatened, by such things as harsh, competitive marketplace conditions or demanding clients. Ask the group to identify the challenge to their values and how they would expect their leadership to respond. In this way, they will crystalize their position and be prepared when the inevitable conflicts arise.

Recently, a Japanese manufacturer transitioned into their third generation of leadership. The founder’s grandson who now runs the company discovered that because he was significantly younger than many of the company’s managers, they were not willing to follow his leadership. The young CEO responded by establishing a dozen corporate values. Then he spent time working with team members to ensure understanding of and respect for the values. He regularly tells his managers, “We don’t make decisions based on what I say; we make them based on what the values say.” And they listen better as a result.[1]

Values-based leadership begins with the leader. You cannot expect your team to perform with character and integrity without first setting the example. As leader, your team looks to you for guidance and direction. You must know and have the capacity to articulate your own values as well as your organization’s values. And then you must live by them. What you do, not what you say, demonstrates most what you care about.

A reward system for team members who consistently act according to the company values will reinforce desired outcomes and give you a forum to promote positive conduct. Whenever possible, share the good word about what your colleagues have achieved, or how they are walking the walk and enhancing your organization as a result.

It is also necessary to establish consequences for team members who don’t follow the organization’s values. We all strive to be good and act in accordance with our values. But sometimes we fall short, and must be held accountable to prevent slippage.

Values, unlike leaders, are eternal. When a leader has effectively used values – her own and others’ – as her starting point, she can be assured that her “fingerprints and footprints” will remain behind long after her departure, guiding people along a values-driven pathway.

Summary:

  • Leaders ought to lead from values.
  • Values are the core components of a person’s deepest beliefs, the concepts that they hold most dear.
  • Create a shared sense of values at the workplace.
  • Values, unlike leaders, are eternal.

Next Steps

  1. Identify your core personal values.
  2. Work with your team to pinpoint and articulate your shared values, the ones that should frame business and leadership decisions. Make sure to publicize them for all to see, learn and internalize.
  3. Where appropriate, communicate how decisions were influenced by the company’s values.
  4. Develop a simple system of rewards and consequences to motivate others to live up to the values that you have established.

Conclusion

Leaders are much more than managers. Sure, they have to implement policy and oversee performance, but leaders are also visionaries and influencers, people who find ways to inspire others to see what they see and seek what they seek.

Great leaders possess leadership characters. They are strong and forceful as needed, but find ways to balance their strength with their values. Legendary American General Douglas MacArthur may have described this best when he suggested that, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

In this series, we have offered examples of what leaders must do to engage and inspire others. It is our hope that the ideas and strategies contained therein will provide additional in­sight and tools to help leaders optimize their performance and motivate their coworkers to new heights of achievement and satisfaction.

Click here for Leadership I: What’s All the Fuss About Leadership?

Click here for Leadership II: It’s All About Influence

Click here for Leadership III: Leadership is Not Management

Click here for Leadership IV: Build a Leadership Character

Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is an executive coach and President of Impactful Coaching & Consulting. He can be reached at (212) 470-6139 or at nhoff@impactfulcoaching.com.

To watch #Leadership videos from this year’s Agudah Convention click below.
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