Communicating Values In Word & Deed

“Identifying and applying ethical values is an important step to creating a highly moral climate.” (Johnson, 2012, p. 334) 

Values are so important because they are a part of the organization’s core ideology—the “central identity or character” of the organization (p. 334).  While many aspects of the organization are often changing and growing, the values should remain the same and serve as an ethical compass for the organization by guiding employee behavior. 

As leaders, we set the tone for our employee’s behavior.  “Leaders are the ethics officers of their organizations, casting light or shadow in large part through the example they set” (Johnson, 2012, p. 318).  Essentially, leaders need to serve as ethical role models to their followers by embodying the organizational values through word and deed. 

As was previously discussed in our blog post about Character, the second C of leadership, leaders must be “clear about their personal values and beliefs…[and] keep people and projects on course by behaving consistently with these values and setting an example for how they expect others to act (Kouzes & Posner, 2006, p. 3).  Nothing undermines an organization’s values quicker than a hypocritical leader.  If I claim that “teamwork” is one of our values, but I regularly take all of the credit and blame others for my mistakes, others will quickly recognize that my true value is “self-serving.”

In contrast, leaders should embody the organizational values in such a way that by following in their example, their employees should also act with the organization’s values in mind.  Successful implementation of ethical values means employees “learn to govern their own behavior by following these same principles” (Johnson, 2012, p. 329).

While walking the talk in this way is incredibly important, it is surprisingly not enough in this instance.  Leaders must also talk the talk.  Words without action may be meaningless, but action without words can easily be overlooked in the busy, sometimes hectic, marketplace.  Therefore, as the ethics officers for their organizations, leaders must continually communicate the organization’s values to their employees.  This involves: (a) discussing the values with one’s team so everyone is clear on what they are and what they mean; (b) highlighting how new initiatives and goals reflect the organization’s values; (c) linking performance reviews to the values; and (d) mentioning them in everyday conversations.

For example, if one your organizational values is “innovation,” you could introduce the implementation of a new sales software system as such, “As part of our dedication to thinking outside the box and trying new things to propel us forward, we will be implementing a new software system to help us keep track of our sales records.  As we implement the program, please let us know what works, what is challenging, and any solutions or ideas you have for even better application and implementation.”  Doing so explains the decision to use the new software in light of the organization’s value around innovation and also invites the employees to engage in innovation by suggesting new and better ways to use the program.

Overall, what is most important to note is that communicating the values cannot be once and done.  They cannot be mentioned one time and then be hung on the wall to die.  Instead, communication must be on-going.  Employees need to be reminded of the importance of organizational values and their ethical responsibilities through the leader’s words and actions on a consistent basis.

References:

  • Johnson, C.E. (2012). Meeting the ethical challenges of leadership: Casting light or shadow (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Kouzes, J. & Posner, B. (2003). Student leadership practices inventory.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

The Inta-Greated Leadership Model

Leadership is often discussed but rarely understood.  A complicated discipline – it represents a mix of psychology, sociology, anthropology, communications, business, and political science theory – it is not easy nor for the faint hearted.  Instead, leadership is a calling that requires dedication, perseverance, and humility.  For those who persevere, however, leadership is greatly rewarding as leaders play a key role in creating, changing, and cultivating culture.  But first, being an effective leader requires that an individual understand what leadership really is.

To many, leadership equates to management.  And yet this is not the case.  Management is focused on tasks and details and comes from a place of positional authority.  In contrast, leadership is focused on vision and serving others from a relationship built on influence.  Anyone with a title can demand a certain level of compliance from their subordinates; however, a true leader is one who not only inspires compliance but greatness.  I grew up playing sports, and in that context we used to call it “giving 110%” or “running through walls.”  At worst, management will result in people giving up when faced with a wall; at best, those people might figure out a way around the wall.  Leadership alone is what inspires and enables people to run through walls.

The question becomes then, “How do I enable and inspire others to run through walls?”  The simple answer of “being a leader” is not enough.  What does it mean to be a leader?  After studying many different leadership theories and perspectives, here at Inta-Great, we have come to believe there is a fundamental difference between providing a definition of leadership and providing a model of leadership.  While a definition is simply about explaining a phenomenon, models are about what specific behaviors, actions, and character traits are effective or ineffective.  Definitions describe; models prescribe. With that in mind, we’ve developed the following definition and model of leadership.

At Inta-Great, we define leadership as “a service-oriented relationship by which change occurs as a leader influences others toward a common vision.”

And, in order to be effective at influencing others in the pursuit of that vision, we propose that leaders follow the Inta-Greated Leadership Model consisting of the “Seven Cs of Leadership:” (1) Composition; understanding the unique personalities, strengths, and motivators of themselves and the team; (2) Character; cultivating credibility and moral authority; (3) Catalyst; inspiring and aligning action toward a common vision; (4) Compassion; coaching and empowering people to do the best they can; (5) Communication; persuading, presenting, listening, and negotiating; (6) Courage; seizing opportunities despite the inherent risk and uncertainties; and (7) Celebration; showing gratitude and celebrating success.

We believe that embodying the Seven Cs is what allows leaders to have an impact at the personal, team, and organizational levels ultimately resulting in real personal and cultural transformation and sustainable results.  Please see a visual representation of the Inta-Greated Leadership Model as Figure 1.1 below.

The Inta-Greated Model of Leadership

Free from fads, fluff, and feel-good teaching, the Inta-Greated Leadership Model is based on proven leadership principles.  To illustrate this, we will be publishing a series of blog posts in the near future that will discuss how each of the Seven Cs connect to the leadership literature.  We hope that you join us as we explore the research and evidence supporting each of the Seven Cs and the impact they are capable of having at the personal, team, and organizational levels.  And, as always, we wish you the best of luck as you continue on your leadership journey.

Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve

Level 5 Hierarchy

What catapults a company from merely good to truly great?  A five-year research project searched for the answer to that question, and its discoveries ought to change the way we think about leadership.  The most powerfully transformative executives possess a paradoxical mixture of personal humility and professional will.  They are timid and ferocious.  Shy and fearless.  They are rare – and unstoppable.” ~Jim Collins

If you have never read Jim Collins’ landmark book, Good to Great, make sure you read his classic article from the Harvard Business Review, “Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve.”  

Thanksgiving Leadership Lessons

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we at Inta-Great hope you had a wonderful holiday filled with family, friends, and maybe even some time to relax and rejuvenate.

We also hope you had some time over the holiday vacation to reflect on what and who you are thankful for—in both your personal and work life.  So here’s our question, did you let anyone know what you are thankful for?  Did you let anyone know you are thankful for him/her?

Thanksgiving serves as a good reminder about how important it is to express gratitude.  Good leaders are appreciative.  They understand that an encouraging word and a sincere “thank you” can help motivate others and create a positive work environment.  After thirty years of research,leadership experts Kouzes and Posner concluded in their latest book, The Truth About Leadership, that:

“the highest performing managers and leaders are the most open and caring…They are more positive and passionate, more loving and compassionate, and more grateful and encouraging than their lower performing counterparts.” 

Why does being grateful and encouraging make such a difference?  It’s quite simple really.  We all work harder and smarter for people we like, and we tend to like people who appreciate and encourage us.  This is often clear in our personal lives.  Most of us would not settle for a spouse or significant other who did not appreciate our efforts or encourage our personal development—and the data shows us that most of us will not settle for a boss who does not appreciate our efforts or encourage our personal development either.  A Gallup poll of more one million employed U.S. workers concluded that the number one reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor.  And, a separate study by Florida State University found one of the main reasons someone is labeled as a “bad boss” is for “failing to give credit where credit is due.”

Not only do people work harder for bosses they like, they are also more willing to take smart risks.  Recently, we wrote an article about the importance of courage and risk-taking when it comes to leadership.  As a leader and manager, you should strive to cultivate leaders at all levels of your organization, and this means giving employees the freedom to take risks.  Innovation will not take place if your employees are afraid to leave their comfort zone.  Knowing they work for a positive and encouraging boss makes employees feel safe enough to be courageous and innovative.

That is why it so important for leaders to not only be appreciative, but to express their gratitude as well.  Don’t let this overwhelm you.  Expressing gratitude doesn’t mean you have to develop a new, complex HR policy about employee recognition, it just means you have to say “Thank you.  Kouzes and Posner put it this way, “recognitions don’t need to come in the form of elaborate events or expensive awards.  In fact, the more personal they are, the more impact they can have.”

So, if you haven’t already, take a moment and reflect on who and what you are thankful for this year.  Maybe you’re thankful for the many ways your spouse has supported you this year.  Maybe you’re thankful for how your employee managed that high profile project.  Maybe you’re thankful for the dedication and loyalty someone has shown to the organization.  Perhaps you’re thankful for someone’s positive attitude and enthusiasm   Maybe it’s even something “little” like everyone pitching in to keep the office kitchen clean.

Then, once you’ve identified who and what you’re thankful for, let them know it.  Send them an email.  Add a personalized thank you note to those Christmas/Holiday cards you hand out every year.  Or better yet, tell them in person.  For many leaders, end-of-year or mid-year employee performance reviews are coming up—those are great opportunities to let your employees know you appreciate them.  In the end, we promise you’ll be thankful that you did. 

Referenced Works:

  • Kouzes, J.M. and B. Z. Posner. (2010). The truth about leadership: The no-fads, heart-of-the-matter facts you need to know. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Motivation and Leadership

As we’ve discussed, motivation has become a buzzword in the business community. And, now that we’ve looked at some of the major motivational theories out there–Herzberg’s motivator-hygiene theory, path-goal theory, and McClelland’s learned needs theory–we can further explore the important role they play in organizational leadership– especially transformational leadership.

At a high level, motivation is an important leadership skill.  Motivation is defined as “(1) what energizes human behavior, (2) what directs or channels such behavior, and (3) how this behavior is maintained or sustained” (Steers, Porter, & Bigley, 1996, p. 8), or more simply, the “reason(s) I do what I do.”  As such, understanding the motivational process is important to effective leadership.  If one defines leadership as, “an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes” (Rost, 1993, p. 102), motivation becomes one of the ways the leader can influence his or her followers.  To put it more clearly, motivation plays a key role in how the leader can energize, direct, and maintain followers’ behavior toward real changes and mutual purposes.

More specifically, Bass (1990, p. 13) defines transformational leadership as occurring “when leaders broaden and elevate the interests of their employees, when they generate awareness and acceptance of the purposes and mission of the group, and when they stir their employees to look beyond their own self-interest for the good of the group.”  In addition to this definition, there are four factors of transformational leadership: (a) idealized influence, (b) inspirational motivation, (c) intellectual stimulation, and (d) individualized consideration (Northouse, 2010).  While motivation plays a role in all four of these areas, the three theories we have discussed play a prominent role in inspirational motivation, individualized consideration, and intellectual consideration.

Inspirational motivation involves leaders creating excitement and enthusiasm around the vision and high expectations through the use of symbols, emotional appeals, and simple messages (Northouse, 2010).  Thomas (2009) explains, “the purpose and vision, then, provided a target that could align the efforts of different people to solve problems and cooperate….the compelling vision was a strong motivational force that inspired people” (p. 23).  When it comes to creating a vision or purpose statement, research has shown that not all purposes are equally effective.

According to Thomas (2009), workers are rarely inspired by purposes that are focused on making a profit or other economic considerations.  This finding is consistent with Herzberg’s Motivator-Hygiene theory.  Herzberg found that “concerns such as pay, security and work conditions…are less capable of energizing workers to higher levels of performance” (Hill, 2008, p. 174).   Instead, if Herzberg’s theory is followed, the vision or purpose statement should connect to workers’ need for recognition, responsibility, and the opportunity fulfill one’s potential.  For example, Chick-fil-A’s mission statement, “Be America’s Best Quick-Service Restaurant” hits on all of these needs.  The focus on being known as the best speaks to one’s need for recognition and fulfilled potential, and it makes the employees responsible to America for their service.  In addition to playing a big role in inspirational motivation, motivational theory is also important to the individualized consideration factor of transformational leadership.

Individualized consideration consists of “… focusing on the development and mentoring of individual followers and attending to their specific needs” (Powell, 2011, p. 5).  Here there is an emphasis on the uniqueness of the individual.  This factor speaks to how important it is for the leader to take the time to get to know his or her followers on an individual basis and learn their strengths and what motivates them.  For example, if one utilizes McClelland’s learned needs theory, one should identify which of the four needs the individual is primarily motivated by (power, achievement, autonomy, affiliation).  Path-Goal Theory also requires this focus on individuals’ needs.

“To apply path-goal theory, a leader must carefully assess the subordinates and their tasks, and then choose an appropriate leadership style to match those characteristics” (Northouse, 2010, p. 135).  In addition to this connection to individualized consideration, path-goal theory plays a key role in intellectual stimulation as well.

Intellectual stimulation involves supporting “…followers as they try new approaches and develop innovative ways of dealing with organizational issues” (Northouse, 2010, p. 179).  It includes removing obstacles which are preventing growth and progress from taking place (at both the individual and organizational level).  Or, in the words of path-goal theory, “The leader should help subordinates define their goals and the paths they want to take…when obstacles arise…[it] may mean helping the subordinate around the obstacle, or it may mean removing the obstacle” (p. 132).

Overall, motivation is a complicated topic that plays a critical role in effective leadership, specifically in the inspirational motivation, intellectual consideration, and individualized consideration factors of transformational leadership.

Referenced Works:

  • Bass, B. M. (1990).  From transactional to transformational leadership: Learning to share the vision. Organizational Dynamics, 18(3), 19-31.
  • Hill, A. (2008). Just Business: Christian ethics for the marketplace. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.
  • Northouse, P. G. (2010). Leadership: Theory and practice (5th ed). Los Angeles: Sage.
  • Powell, G. N. (2011).  The gender and leadership wars.  Organizational Dynamics, 40, 1-9.
  • Rost, J. C. (1993). Leadership for the twenty-first century. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.
  • Steers, R.M., Porter, L.W., Bigley, G.A. (1996). Motivation and leadership at work. (6th ed.) New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Thomas, K.W. (2009).  Intrinsic motivation at work: What really drives employee engagement. San Francisco: Barrett-Koehler.

How Leaders Can Facilitate Change

Change is an integral part of any type of growth.  If any organization is to grow, leadership must recognize that change is inevitable, and then set up a process to help people embrace it.  Too often, employees experience what they perceive to be random attempts at change with no thought-out plan.  It is these impulsive and unsuccessful change attempts which lead to an organizational culture of skepticism and negativity.  To prevent such a culture from taking root in their organizations, leaders need to: (a) be aware that most people dislike change, (b) solicit input from the employees, and (c) communicate and celebrate the change.   

When trying to implement a change, the first thing leaders need to understand is that most people reject change.  In fact, up to 80% of people in an organization can be labeled as reactive thinkers.  Reactive thinkers tend to resist change, avoid responsibility, fear taking risks, and have low confidence (Oakley and Krug, 1991).  Therefore, change efforts must begin by changing the mindset of these individuals As Oakley and Krug emphasize, one of leadership’s main responsibilities is to bring out the best in those they lead Attitude is critical to performance, and one of the key issues behind attitude is one’s self-esteem.  One way to help improve employee self-esteem is by soliciting their input during the change process.

Some leaders have the “it’s my way or the highway” mentality – they believe they can impose their ideas onto other people.  And yet, as Oakley and Krug point out, this philosophy does not work for implementing long-term change (1991).  Instead of only telling people what to do, leaders should strive to engage employees in the change process.  Leaders can do this by asking for employee feedback, questions, and ideas to make the change more successful.  This experience not only increases employees’ self-esteem and confidence, it also helps employees feel a sense of ownership for the change initiative. 

Engaging people throughout the change process facilitates organizational “buy-in.”  Without such commitment it will be impossible to move change forward.  Another way to develop buy-in is by building trust with one’s employees.  It is only when people trust a leader that they will be willing to follow him or her into the unknown territory of change.

One way of building trust is through constant, clear, and honest communication.  The first step in the communication process is to develop a clear vision around why the change needs to take place and what it will look like.  Unless change is clear in the leader’s mind, it will be impossible for him or her to communicate a compelling vision to others (the same is true for leadership teams).

Once the leader is clear on the vision, he/she needs to communicate it.  Leaders can communicate the vision by delivering speeches, sending emails, posting the vision statement on the wall, participating in discussions – but most importantly –  by “living out” the message.  As Kotter (1995) says, “Communication comes in both word and deeds, and the latter are often the most powerful form” (p.65).

This consistent communication in word and deed will reinforce the change process as will celebrating successes.  Many times leaders are so bogged down with trying to achieve results, they do not take the time, energy, and resources to acknowledge success.  For employees, the perception of never being recognized can erode their desire to engage in change as engaging usually takes great effort.  One way to combat this is by celebrating short-term wins and recognizing, perhaps even rewarding, employees for their involvement in the change process (1995).

Overall, leaders need to remember that change does not happen overnight.  Instead, it is a long and deliberate process that requires engaging one’s employees, communicating a clear vision, and celebrating successes along the way.  When used together, these actions will help employees open their minds and be more receptive to new ideas and change in order to help the organization grow.

Resources:

  • Kotter, J. (March, 1995). Leading change: why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business Review.
  • Oakely, E., Krug, D. (1991). Enlightened leadership. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster.

Managing for Organizational Integrity

Too often organizations don’t realize that ethical failings are leadership problems–not just a lone employee’s shortcomings.  Here’s a great article about the importance of leaders building an ethical organizational climate based on shared values and purpose written by Lynn Sharp Paine, “Managing for Organizational Integrity.”

“From the perspective of integrity, the task of ethics management is to define and give life to an organization’s guiding values, to create an environment that supports ethically sound behavior, and to instill a sense of shared accountability among employees.” – Lynn Sharp Paine