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Davis H. Taylor
The Leadership Imperative
The Power of Values-Based Leadership
Despite your best efforts – 12 hour workdays, marathon meetings, extensive travel, absolute commitment to the job and your considerable talent – does it ever seem you’re just not being effective? Are you juggling too many priorities, and too many long standing problems, while being controlled by the “tyranny of the urgent”?
If you feel this way, you probably have a clear perspective on your current reality. And, the fact is, you have a lot of company. Leaders at all levels in corporate America are feeling the same way – that they are underachieving in spite of tremendous effort.
Let’s face it, the talent, skills and experience you bring to the job are the very reasons you were given such substantial responsibility in the first place. You have what it takes to succeed – so what then is the problem?
Working with top executives in multiple industries, we discovered that many talented leaders foster nagging insecurities relative to their individual leadership effectiveness. Interestingly, these feelings often become deeper the higher an executive rises in the organization. The problem usually lies not in areas of the executive’s commitment and talent, but in her or his ability to lead a team to high employee commitment and productivity, despite all the executive’s best efforts.
The good news is: It doesn’t have to be this way. There is help … and it can be powerful, effective and reasonably quick in coming. The solution to the problem begins with adequately addressing two key questions within the context of Values-based Leadership: What is it that I should be trying to do? And, what it is about me that is standing in the way? On the surface, these are simple questions, yet the answers can have a profound impact on leadership effectiveness and organizational performance. The first question suggests an answer focused on goals and objectives. Ultimately, the achievement of goals and objectives affords “success” metrics; however, simply achieving goals does not ensure that they are the right goals. How often have we seen extraordinary and committed individuals exert extreme effort to accomplish a project or task only to find – to borrow a sports analogy – that the achievement simply did not “move the ball forward,” or, in a corporate context, that the effort failed to contribute value relative to the mission or business goals of the company?
Clearly articulating what it is you should be doing requires specific definitions of corporate mission and vision. It requires leadership alignment and leadership’s willingness to ruthlessly prioritize, discerning best from good, those activities and initiatives that truly matter to desired corporate results.
This same discipline is necessary at every level in the organization. Each enterprise, business unit and staff function must establish mission and vision relevant to and directly supportive of the organization’s mission and vision. Unfortunately, many executives too readily launch into an achievement mode before they adequately accomplish the prerequisite task of “visioneering,” a term coined by Andy Stanley. In short, despite good intentions to the contrary, they fail to adequately articulate the very things that provide a guiding light for their organization and enable a filter through which any initiative must pass muster (i.e. discerning best from good).
The next question, a close companion to the first, is: What is it about me that is standing in the way? Actually, this question begs multiple questions – Is my personal mission aligned with that of the organization? Am I operating in my areas of strength? Have I
staffed appropriately to compliment my areas of relative weakness? Am I delegating appropriately? Have I created a performance
culture for my team? Have I established the right relationships? Am I playing the right role, consistent with how I am “wired”? Am I
leading in such a way that I earn authority and attract followers? Am I holding myself accountable for establishing the right priorities
… for achieving results that matter?
Deepak Sethi once said: “The paradox of self-awareness is that one cannot be self-aware by self alone.” While each of us may have
the answers within, most of us need help bringing those answers to the surface, and once surfaced, we need an accountability process
to maintain focus and to stay the course. Self-awareness empowers us to bring who we are to what we do – it enables us to bring our
core values into play to impact corporate results. Self-awareness is the leadership imperative that creates the platform for Valuesbased
Values-based Leadership is about authenticity, it’s about being genuine and sincere – it’s about a dual focus on motivating people
and on achieving results – it’s about the very attributes that inspire and motivate employees to produce sustainable results and outstanding return-on-investment.
Values-based Leaders are self-aware, instilling their personal values to shape corporate culture: a values-based culture that drives
extraordinary results. Values-based Leaders understand that what they believe and value determines how they behave, that how they
behave impacts the model for organizational behavior (culture), and that specific behaviors generate predictable and sustainable corporate performance.
Values-based Leaders …
- Set an uncompromising example – integrity
- Selflessly serve and raise-up others – humility
- Care for others and develop their potential – compassion
- Align with corporate mission, vision, values – purpose driven
- Persevere to do the right thing – courage
- Hold themselves/others accountable – self discipline
- Appreciate/acknowledge the contributions of others – gratitude
Values-based Leaders know who they are and they know where they are going. They inspire their employees to greater performance and productivity, and improved teamwork which leads to increased job satisfaction, and increased commitment to the mission and to the organization. These leaders drive real performance – performance that matters to corporate results – values-driven performance.
The process works, as documented by articles, books, and personal testimony. There is no need (and no excuse) for leadership ineffectiveness – there is an answer.
Permission to reprint this article is granted as long as it included the complete author atribution as listed below.
Davis Taylor is the author of The Imperfect Leader and leads TAI Incorporated, a consulting firm that embraces Values-based Leadership as the way to guide and renew leaders to impact and transform society. Davis and TAI provide consulting and coaching services, seminars and workshops to clients in the US, Europe and Asia. Learn more about Davis and his work at www.DavisHTaylor.com