Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Values in real time

This week, a few interesting challenges in the workplace have made me question values. Specifically, the difference between what people express as their values, and what they exhibit; whether beknownst to themselves or not.

For example, many corporate cultures are based around teamwork. Ours states we must share with and care for our teammates in every situation. This never means we must agree- it basically boils down to trust and respect. Without using any examples from our environment, let's look at a few common scenarios we can probably all relate to from our every day lives....

How about the nice guy who holds the door open for the sweet old lady, and then honks his horn and cuts people off as soon as he gets behind the wheel?

How about the parent who will argue till they are blue in the face about how they will do anything for their kids, but then yell at their kids to quiet down when their favorite show is on?

What about the girl who "just wishes she could meet a nice guy?" and expects to meet him at the flashiest bar, driving a flashy car with pimp clothes on and who uses a clever pick up line?

I will be the first to say nobody is perfect, and it is impossible to follow your own advice all the time (what if telling a lie protects someone from being injured or even assaulted?). The reason I bring these specific examples up- these seemingly mundane every day examples....

is to show that there is a real difference between what we tell others our values are; and the values they may perceive us to hold based on our ACTIONS. As leaders, the more consistent our spoken words and our visible actions, the greater chances are that others will a) believe us and b) accept the challenge to live their values at a higher level.

So, email away, write the best book on the subject, and talk talk talk all you want... but ensure your actions are saying what you want to others about your values in real time.

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