The Importance of Communicating Values
As a leader, communicating values provides a distinct advantage because it is the quickest way to build trust and get others to follow you. It also means living the values that your company professes.
(UPDATED: June 15, 2016)
Think about it. Values are like magnets.
- We are drawn to friends who share our values and beliefs.
- We join organizations that share our values and beliefs.
- We want others to validate our values and beliefs.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Why is Culture Important?
Perhaps the greatest recruiting advantage we had in the all-volunteer Army I served was that the people who joined were aware of our culture and its values. Yes, like any organization, some signed up for the wrong reasons. But, they didn’t stay.
Those who stayed did so because they found that the Army’s culture provided the possibility of, let’s face it, a place where you could be happy living your values. But, just because this is what our culture professed, that didn’t mean that every unit in the Army automatically lived the corporate values.
You’ve seen it too. This is where leadership, formal and informal, comes in.
“Corporate America is littered with the debris of companies that crafted lofty values on paper but, when put to the test, failed to live by them. We believe in values lived, not phrases memorized. If we had to choose, we’d rather have a team member who lives by our values than one who just memorizes them.”
— Wells Fargo Website
It’s about everyone within the culture communicating values.
Culture and Communication
When I was a brand new lieutenant serving as a platoon leader the first time, less than three months in my position I was faced with an unpleasant decision: Take a soldier in for a drug and alcohol test, or somehow, find a reason to let it slide.
I didn’t like my choices, but I had to decide. I simply did not know what to do. Despite my position of authority, I was inexperienced. Fortunately, I received the advice of an informal leader who gave me great counsel.
One of the things I realized that weekend was that I wasn’t the only one to join the Army because I believed it was a place where I could live my personal and professional values. I was one of many. I joined a proud culture with a history of tradition, and as a young leader, I had to be willing to listen, and, to do my part.
Organizational Culture and Leadership
Values are the magnets that attract people to your organization, but if you want to retain your best, you have to live your values and beliefs.
By setting the example and living your company values, you communicate to employees that their values are important. And, by reinforcing these principles, you also communicate that their values and beliefs are aligned. By doing so, you provide a safe place for others to operate, and you establish the groundwork for leadership trust.
Army Leadership Values
I’ll be posting a series of blogs on How to Align Personal and Professional Values for Greater Success. While your list of values may be different than those that follow, the key is that when you, as a leader, live your company values, you make it easier for everyone to do what is expected of them.
As I write these blogs, I’ll include a link to each of the seven leadership values U.S. Army soldiers were expected to live, those contained in the acronym L-D-R-S-H-I-P:
- Loyalty – Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other Soldiers
- Duty – Fulfill your obligations
- Respect – Treat people as they should be treated
- Selfless Service – Put the welfare of the Nation, the Army, and subordinates before your own
- Honor – Live up to all the Army Values
- Integrity – Do what’s right—legally and morally
- Personal Courage – Face fear, danger, or adversity (physical and moral)
— FM 6-22: Army Leadership
More on Organizational Culture and Leadership
Whether business, sports, or the military, The most successful organizations are communicating values that everyone follows. Here are some great examples of leaders who have been able to build the best teams:
- Pat Riley, coach of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers dynasty won five National Basketball Association championships. He had a set of team values he called their “Core Covenant.”
- Herb Kelleher, Chairman, President, and CEO of Southwest Airlines, successfully communicated his vision and the “Southwest Core Values” throughout his organization to impact the entire aviation industry.
- Pat Summitt, the Division I coach with the most wins in NCAA history at the University of Tennessee, coached the Lady Volunteers basketball team to eight national titles. She has a set of values she calls the “Definite Dozen.”