During the past two weeks we provided posts that spelled out exercises to Begin with the “End in Mind” by confirming/refine your vision then to confirm your values. Leaders who are already have a clear sense of their vision and values know that the real impact of this information is how it drives aligned action, builds trust among colleagues and teams, and accelerates outcomes because it reduces the amount of time team members spend trying to figure out who you are as the leader and what you will do.
An example of putting values into action is a client who, based on significant reflection, learned he valued giving back to the community in a way that he was not doing at the time. He was the CEO of a technology firm. His passion was offering computer training for returning veterans in the US even though he was born and raised in India; he maintained the job of CEO and added a community support function into his business. His passion for service to the community and professional skills afforded him the ability to follow his passion and still run a successful business. In the process of following his passion, he is building the workforce in his community and building his reputation as a civic leader and successful entrepreneur. He has now helped many returning veterans gain solid jobs and his company has been acknowledged for this significant contribution.
Exercise: Putting Vision into Action
Step 1: Identify your foundation. Answer the three questions below by compiling a list of responses to each.
- What are you passionate about? This will come from the prior exercise and should now be relatively concise.
- What meets your economic needs?
- What can you be great at?
*Note: your answers to these questions should reflect your values from the Personal Values Checklist.
Step 2: Review and identify overlap. Review your answers and identify the overlaps.
Step 3: Harvest the ideas. Based on the overlaps, do you see anything that might be incorporated in what you do or how you work? This could mean adding an additional service line to an existing business or allocating a portion of your work time to a project that is aligned with your values.
Step 4: Live your values. Finally, identify opportunities to share your values and live what you committed to. If you say you value community service, find ways to do something community related. If you value spiritual growth, take action to develop. Our ability as leaders to live our values has a huge impact on our organizations. People tend to respect and trust leaders who share their values and live them.
A colleague, Mike, talked about sharing his personal vision and values with employees when he took over a company as a turn around leader. Quickly he had an opportunity to “live those values”. A customer who had a reputation for abusing his staff showed up at his office. He quickly met the customer and clearly indicated that behavior was not allowed and he was willing to give up the client business to live his values. This leader has a strong financial background. He knew that the financial impact of taking a stand could be significant and yet the longer term impact of allowing actions that violated his values would be even higher in the form of morale and employee engagement. He took the tough stand and won the trust of his entire organization as rumor of his quiet and respectful response to the customers yelling spread throughout the organization.
Putting our vision and values in action is a test of courage and integrity. The cost of not putting them in action is lost of trust.
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