Author Archives: Paul LaRue
In a study conducted by Leadership IQ in the last year revealed that only 29% of employees see their leaders as aligned with their organizations’ values.
That leaves an enormous majority – 71% – of leaders are not aligned with the organization they claim to support and represent.
Why is there such a disconnect in leadership across the board? And how can leaders correct the plague of misalignment to get their organization synchronized?
There are a myriad of reasons why leaders don’t willingly comply with their company’s core values and mission, and some of the most common are below:
- Authority Position – these leaders feel above the law as they assume (and usually manipulate the system so) that no one will challenge their authority
- Higher Earnings – there are certain leaders whose salary and stock options are the goal, and all else is secondary
- “Peter Principle” – when a leader tends to get over their head as they ascend, they will forsake what got them there in order to hold onto their position
- Played the Part – many leaders are “wolves in sheeps clothing”, feigning alignment just to work their way up the corporate ladder
- Know It All – these are the types of leaders who think they have it all figured out – hence their ascendancy in the organizational ranks – and feel their decision making alone is the right path
When leaders show their true colors in exhibiting misaligned behaviors, the aligned leadership needs to react immediately to remedy the error, which usually involves separation of the misaligned individual(s) to keep core values intact. Delay in keeping skewed leadership on the roster will allow such toxic leadership to erode away the organization quickly in an ever accelerating fashion from the inside out.
But how does a leader work towards keeping themselves aligned with their company’s culture to ensure they don’t go astray? Many start off innocent enough but allow themselves to adopt a false thought process becuase it’s worked for others ahead of them.
Here are some practices to adopt both in mindset as well as behavior that will keep you aligned:
- Leave Yourself Open To Accountability. Our world is replete with people from all walks of life – politicians, journalists, business people, church leaders, community organizers and such – who will never admit error or missteps let alone placing checks and balances that hold themselves accountable along with everyone else. A great leader will allow dissenting opinions without any ramifications, a pathway and process to allow their work (budget, closed door meetings, decisions) to be verified. Ensuring others can hold you to account, and in line, also builds a great deal of trust.
- Create an Inverted Review Process. Very rarely, if ever, will a leader or organization create a process to allow the employees to review their leaders, instead of those that the leaders report to (CEO, board, etc). The handful of companies that have used this process as the only method for promotions see a cultural dynamic where leaders work to ensure their people are treated respectfully with clear voice and value. It develops a culture in which leaders need, and start to desire, their people to succeed across the board.
- Be Self-Aware. Self-awareness is having a brutally honest assessment with yourself on what your weak areas are; areas where you will easily stumble. This is an area where you’ll most likely need a mentor and accountability partner to help suss out where you might be fooling yourself. We all have behaviors that we are blinded to, and knowing them – as well as being willing to work on them – become a key component in growing as an effective and trustworthy leader.
- Always Be Willing To Learn. The one thing that is constant is change. Even the speed of change is never constant, in fact seemingly always to be accelerating. What a leader knew last year, or 3 months ago, is almost always rendered obsolete at some point. A leader who knows that they don’t, and will never, know everything has every advantage over a leader who claims to know it all and have everything figured out. Staying fresh by learning, and developing a thirst to take time to learn at every opportunity keeps a person humble and open to input – even from their front line employees.
- Review Your Culture and Core Values Daily. Like any instrumentation for measuring, leaders tends to get off course from time to time, naturally and unwillingly, without any ill intention. And just like instrumentation, leaders need to be re-calibrated often. By reviewing your core values and cultural beliefs to yourself, and especially with others in an open format, you can ensure you keep that culture top of mind to guide your thinking, which leads to your behaviors being aligned as well.
While many leaders develop an intentional path to forsake being aligned with their company, some inadvertently stray unconsciously and drift away before they know it. Some may even find themselves in a pattern they cannot undo. By adopting these practices you can help ensure that yourself and others have the necessary guardrails to keep from drifting, and safeguards to separate those leaders who willingly jump the fences.
Keeping aligned is a daily intentional effort all great leaders work towards purposely.
About 30 years ago the buzzword for success was having a positive mental attitude.
The premise was that always having a shiny outlook would produce the best results over time.
While compared to a negative outlook, it is by far superior. But having a PMA fails in understanding reality without the proper context.
One can be positive while rooted in reality.
A leader who can finds the opportunity in a failure will work a positive outlook in the reality of that failure. So will the leader who finds a teachable moment to encourage everyone to learn and work towards the next success, even if that success is many failures away.
It’s quite alright to be discouraged, get down, and not take losing or setback well. A rose-colored PMA discounts that we’re human with an emotional spectrum that drives us. Positive outlooks can motivate us forward, but seeking the positive when things are bleak and not favorable gives credence to the reality of losing and keep perspective in not letting us feel down for too long.
Being positive is always preferable, but positivity alone won’t get it done. Learn to work it with the emotional gamut of the success journey. It’s always better than negative or toxic leadership.
In research done on various companies and looking at their literature, websites, and marketing materials, it’s startling to see how many organizations do not promote, or list, or even seem to have an essential piece to govern their path.
Core values of many companies are simply not listed.
What should be such a fundamental component of an entity more often than not fails to get promoted or noticed. This may be deliberate, or an unconscious decision, but for any organization to succeed and thrive it must state these values clearly for a number of reasons:
- Identify with your customers. Customers in our times want to buy and be serviced from companies that they can identify with. Whether they want to be pampered, delivered, or know of your good stewardship, customers are looking for those businesses that mirror their own values, dreams, and passions.
- Transparency of mission. Having the values out in public lets others know the agenda you claim you’re on. If you want others to join and believe in your mission, you need to tell them why it’s being worked for in the first place.
- Accountability of results. Whether internal or external partnerships, your values will let others know what you claim you stand for. If integrity is a value, then your people will hold you to that value to make sure you’re true to the core. It opens your company up for synergy and shoring up disruptive goals and behavior.
- Guardrails for operating. Core values are the guardrails that keep the company car from skidding into the ditch. People development is a great core value if it leads to efficiency and productivity, but when training budgets get slash at the expense of quality products or services, then you have jumped the values guardrails. Keep them in check and steer straight.
- Alignment of people. Not only do your values help ensure your people are on the bus with your philosophy, but it allows you to select and attract job candidates who mirror your operating beliefs as well.
- Congruent strategic planning. If a business acquisition would steer you away from your mission, a values assessment would abort that plan before it gets realized. Values keep you on course.
- Preserve the core culture. Your values are like centripetal force that pulls a body to the center. An adherence to unchanging values (versus the change of innovation and application within those values) keeps the heart of the company intact for generation after generation. Values should also govern long-term business and succession planning as well, which will always have the core in mind.
Core values are not a fancy strategic planning session with a high-paid consultant. They are not a plaque that gets hung on the lobby wall and becomes wallpaper to everyone in the company.
Core values are the skeleton on which the strategy, or meat, can then adhere to the bone. They are the foundation for the company mission, payout of stakeholders, treatment of staff, and servicing of customers.
Core values are a tell, and more and more this world demands your hand to be shown.
However you promote them, whether internal training and branding, website presence, business cards, or even a long-term marketing campaign, resolve to start now to promote your values and let the world know who you are to them.