Leaders Give Values Heat

Leaders must figure out what values they believe should be manifested in their organizations.  And then put them over the flame of a Bunsen burner by teaching on those values, underscoring them, enforcing them, and making heroes out of the people who are living them out.  ~Bill Hybels

Dr. Kathryn Scanland is the president of Greystone Global LLC, a consulting firm focusing on strategic planning, leadership development and organizational design. This post is republished with permission from Tuesday Mornings.

I've watched a lot of organizations debate, scrutinize, and pore over creating their values and wordsmith the definitions until each noun, verb and preposition was perfect.  And then there they sat.  Simply putting values in writing doesn't make them meaningful or practiced. 

Have you ever flown on Southwest Airlines?  I realize I’m picking on one of the most values-driven organizations you can find, but you only have to fly once on Southwest and you get it.  I just checked their Web site and I’m certainly not surprised to learn that one of their values is to have a fun loving attitude.  Do flight attendants on any other airline ever tell jokes and laugh at themselves?  Not in my experience.  What about their value of having a servant’s heart?  When I get on a Southwest flight I feel like I’m being genuinely welcomed aboard the plane as opposed to being herded and tolerated.

As Hybels states “Whatever the value, if it’s alive and well in an organization, it’s not by accident.  It’s only there because of intentional, committed, dedicated effort.”

I recently heard a former CEO tell a story about the values at his publishing company.  An editor had approved a design for a book cover that the CEO thought was, well, let’s just say not as good as it could have been.  He went to the editor and in a slightly raised voice (in an open office environment) began to berate the editor and asked him what he was possibly thinking to approve a cover like that!  The conversation was overheard by a co-worker who then went to the CEO and said he didn’t think his behavior represented their value of respect.  The CEO agreed; how he chose to address the issue was not respectful.  The CEO returned to the editor and apologized for his behavior.

This happened because the CEO had turned up the heat on their values through extensive training, orientation and dedicated effort.  The heat had been turned up so high, that even the CEO couldn’t get away with not modeling their corporate values.  That’s the way it’s supposed to work – values so hot that they can’t be missed or swept under the rug even when the CEO slips up.

One way to check the heat level on your values is to honestly ask yourself, if someone were to come to our organization would they see an observable difference between us and another organization in our industry?  Would someone be able to identify at least some of our values without going to our Web site and looking up our list of values? 

Hybels says “When you heat up a value, you help people change states.  Want to jolt people out of business as usual?  Heat up innovation.  What to untangle confusion?  Heat up clarity.  New ‘states’ elicit new attitudes, new aptitudes, and new actions.  It’s not rocket science.  It’s just plain chemistry.  Which is a lot about heat.”

CVDL Winter 2011 eNews

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eNews Winter 2011

"Who Will Buy?" The Question that Plagues Boomer Entrepreneurs

Tom Walter is a "serial entrepreneur" who has launched nearly 30 companies. He is the CEO of Tasty Catering, named one of Winning Workplaces best small companies in 2010. This post is republished with permission from Serial Entrepreneur.

The numbers are in, and the reality can be overwhelming.

Ten thousand adults born during the Baby Boomer era of 1940 through 1960 are retiring every day in the US.

2010 was the year that Millennials became the largest generation in the work force. 2011 was the year that women replaced men as the largest gender in the work force. These facts illustrate the chaos that faces entrepreneurs that do not have a clearly defined succession plan. Who will buy your business?

What Do Santa Clause & Performance Management Have in Common?

Photo by Vanessa Pike-Russell on Flickr.

Brian Kauke (not pictured on the left) is a sales & marketing professional at The Vaya Group, a Talent Management consultancy that applies science and precision to the art of talent assessment and development.This post is republished with permission from The Vaya Group's blog. 
I think it’s safe to say the holiday season is knocking at our door. The leaves are almost all gone. The layer of frost that greets us when we wake up is getting thicker. And just try to walk into a store without spotting any holiday decorations. But there is even a more telling sign that alerts me every year. My kids are behaving like two precious angels I can barely recognize.

The dinner dishes are cleared before I can even stand up. Homework is done promptly and double-checked for accuracy. Their motivation is off the chart and engagement is at an all-time high. I love the effort and performance, yet I know who I should be thanking for this inspiration – Santa Claus. Yes, they know what is at stake and the reward they are anticipating. Want to take a guess how long this will last?

Four Financial Returns on Ethical Behavior: The Business Case for Responsibility

Shannon Brown is a Ph.D. student at Benedictine University’s Center for Values-Driven Leadership (CVDL) and has served in leadership positions with Thomson Reuters, Tata Consultancy Services and BoomTime.  In addition, she is an adjunct faculty member at Dominican University where she teaches courses in leadership studies.

Corporate behavior over the last decade has provided much fodder for debate in the popular press regarding the need for higher ethical standards in business, yet many people feel that little progress has been made. No one has been held accountable for the recent financial system meltdown, and the U.S. seems to be slowly returning to the pattern of behavior that created that very situation.

Why is it so difficult to shine a spotlight on ethics in business? To systematically work to increase ethical leadership? I believe it is because businesses are often resistant to change without proof of positive financial impact. After all, businesses are in the game to make money, so to change a practice requires proof that the change will increase profitability.

There is ample empirical evidence for the case that increased ethical leadership improves organizational performance and directly impacts the bottom line. Unfortunately, that business case hasn’t been made strongly enough in the media or the board room. So if you’re building your case for ethical leadership at your organization, here are four financial returns on responsible behavior:

Social Media Mistakes Companies Make, and How They Reflect Corporate Values: Part 4 in our Social Media & Values Series

This is the fourth in a four part series. For the previous entries please see the links included below.

Photo by dougbelshaw, via Flickr. 
Fifteen years ago when I began my career, I carried an oversize purse just to accommodate my cell phone - which was for emergency purposes only. I never dreamed of owning a smartphone with more computing power than my first desktop.

With those smartphones, and the media outlets that have popped up around them, the world is more connected than ever before. Our great ideas have greater potential because with the right conditions they can go viral; the world can hear about them instantly. Of course, our worst mistakes can go viral as well - and there lies the challenge for corporations in the social media space.

We can learn from the mishaps of others, as we have through this series:

Magnetrol CEO Featured in First Champions of Responsible Business Video

New Video Series Features Stories of Courageous Decision Making and Strategic Leadership

Magnetrol International is a leading maker of valves - a manufacturing business that is growing aggressively in a difficult economy. You might expect that CEO Jeff Swallow's growth plan would focus on acquisitions, research and development, or future forecasting. All that's important, says Swallow, but it's not how you grow a company.

Swallow says his company's best plan for the future lies in developing its employees. He explains his theory, and how Magnetrol encourages employee engagement, in this short video:

Swallow's video is the first in a new series of videos from the Center for Values-Driven Leadership (CVDL). The series, called Champions of Responsible Business, will feature established executives sharing stories of making the right decision in difficult circumstances, of focusing on long-range growth rather than short-term gain, of building sustainable businesses that care for shareholders and stakeholders.

"With this series, we hope to tell stories of business done the right way," says Amber Johnson, the CVDL's corporate relations advisor and the producer of the video series. "This series gives us a chance to celebrate the senior executives who are leading some of the world's most innovative and sustainable companies."

Learn more about the CVDL at www.cvdl.org.