Hi, we’re back after a summer break! Thanks for joining us again. As always we’re sharing with you our most valued and authentic insights relative to culture and leadership.
The Culture/Leadership Challenge: I keep an Enron values cube on my desk as a reminder of how hollow, empty and cynical organizations’ values can be. Enron, of course, was an energy company that reached dramatic heights at $90+/share in 2001 and disintegrated into bankruptcy almost overnight based on unethical leadership and systemic fraud. The infamous values cube beautifully captured so-called Enron values (like integrity), that were obviously anything but what the company really stood for. The western business world is populated by stated values. They are usually well intended, yet rarely well applied. At worst, they are symbols of contradiction and fuel cynical distrust among employees and stakeholders.
What to Do About It: The main thing about declaring values is that they need to be a unique recipe and a non-negotiable guide for EVERY person’s core behavior in an organization. It’s not the quantity (people believe that there should be only three or four), because it’s not about recital similar to a 5th grade memory contest. It’s not simply a memory game. It is about a deeply held belief that the behavior associated with all the values is a system, and fundamental to the success of the business. It’s obviously not the only element of business success, however it is a vital component. The secret sauce is fully integrating the values into the soul of the institution, and to introduce them to help people become better human beings first and foremost. How can we resist investing in that which makes us better? People ask me if people bought into the 11 stated values of an organization I was previously at, and my answer is always “yes.” Every single value we declared and reinforced made us better as individuals AND as a group. Furthermore, it is important for people to recognize that consistently living a value is life long exercise. One is never “done” achieving the necessary self-awareness and emotional maturity to truly live the value set in the moment every day. We stumble and celebrate how much more consistent we become. The commitment is relentless, everyday learning at a very personal level. Leadership needs to set the example and reinforce this. Every employee needs to commit from the inside out. When one can execute on this, you really have done something important for the culture.
Think BIG, start small, act now.
One Millennial View: I mean, no one can deny that core values are important and crucial for all of us, and great organizations to possess. That doesn’t mean it’s not difficult, disciplined, and painstaking to uphold. As mentioned above, there will be times of falter, but if we don’t have values then what do we have?
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis