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Do you REALLY live your values?

2 years ago | Lesley Calland

I know that you will have heard this before, culture starts from the top. Getting it right, brings a sense of togetherness and pride in the everyday.

This is not just typical ‘leadership’ speak, I have witnessed many good and bad examples to prove it.

You can do all the work you like on creating the values, but if your team don’t believe that you live those values yourself, mistrust rather than trust is built.

A resentment sets in that they are measured on how kind they are when the bosses from the top feel like they can speak to anyone in whichever way they want.

Strangely, nine times out of ten, the word honesty is listed as one of the most important behaviours, yet most employees fear being totally honest about how they feel. Why?  For two main reasons,

  1. 1. The employees make it too personal when giving the feedback and
  2. 2. The managers take it personally

Once you are in that zone then it is difficult to have the conversation about how you can work better together, because blame and guilt sits in the middle of you both. If you don’t like what you are hearing, you try to stop listening or get out of the conversation as quickly as possible. Defending starts to kick in for both parties and before you know it, it feels like you are at war, not trying to make peace. Making these discussions objective suddenly gives it a different edge i.e.

  • What’s best for us and what’s best for the business too?
  • What can we do to avoid being in this situation again?
  • Is there anyone else feeling the same that we need to help?

In one organisation I overheard someone in a top position say ‘We will not apologise for who we are’.  A very confident statement. But, if your manner offends others or is seen as arrogant, one day you will have to apologise to more people than you realise!

You would not accept an employee making a statement like this as it implies they will not adapt for anyone, or they are not open to learning like you expect your team to be and it may sound like a cop-out if you don’t want to change and work in the way that your values dictate that everyone  should.

Can you imagine if they repositioned this statement with ‘We are proud of who we are’.

…And, that brings me back full circle. Values and culture are usually put in place to determine what your behaviours and attitudes will be towards each other, so that you all work together in a way that will make you proud every day.

If you are not feeling that, don’t be afraid to revisit why you felt those values were set in the first place. Be honest with yourself, try measuring how you act In the same way you measure your team. In fact, ask them how they believe you do or don’t live up to the values, you may be surprised by the feedback, but therein will lie all the answers as to how leaders influence the culture more than they realise.

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