The new year is only weeks away. Traditionally this is a time to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments and missed opportunities, then plan for a more effective approach for the coming year.

A few New Year’s Eve’s ago a culture client used this reflection time to design an approach for consistent values-aligned leadership. John’s thoughts became an important touchstone for their organization’s culture journey. I share these “best practices” to hopefully inspire your reflections and planning for a more values-aligned 2012.

Live Our Company’s Values & Behaviors, Every Day

Creating clear values expectations, defined in behavioral terms, is a foundational step for Blanchard’s proven culture change process. Defining behavioralized values is hard work. Once values are published, the focus shifts to holding all staff – including oneself – accountable for demonstrating valued behaviors. This requires constant diligence. John described three key drivers to demonstrating company values. A leader must:

  • reflect daily on his/her interactions with individuals, asking “to what extent did I consistently model our valued behaviors today?” Celebrate what s/he did well, then design an approach to align interactions where improvement is needed.
  • craft personal leadership stories from his/her interactions with others and share them with staff members and teams. His/her intent is to demonstrate that company valued behaviors are not just for him/her as a leader but they apply to everyone in the organization at all times, in all interactions.
  • ask for and authentically listen to feedback from others to learn what s/he does well and to identify ways to more effectively live company valued behaviors.

Create Meaning For Every Team Member

Reflect regularly to answer these questions honestly. A leader must ask him/herself, “In all interactions with individuals and teams, how well did I:

  • explain how their individual goals done well help enable team and company goals to be accomplished?”
  • describe how their work and their job, is worthwhile to company staff, customers, and stakeholders?”
  • demonstrate how all plans, decisions, and actions are guided by our values?”

Build A Skilled Workforce

Reflection continues: “In all interactions with individuals and teams, how well did I:

  • provide skill building where required so employees know how to do their jobs efficiently?”
  • delegate authority to talented and values-aligned employees so they can act ‘in the moment’?”
  • listen to and respect each team member’s thoughts, feelings, and needs?”

Celebrate Progress and Accomplishment

Reflection continues: “In all interactions with individuals and teams, how well did I:

  • praise team member’s efforts? (and not wait until the job is DONE before doing so)”
  • find and share success stories of teams throughout the company so all staff know we’re of ‘one mind, one heart, and one voice’?”
  • demonstrate optimism about goals, efforts, and opportunity?”

Take time before 2012 begins to reflect on these questions. Demonstrating values-aligned leadership leads to higher performance, better customer experiences, and passionate employees.

How might you be a more values-aligned leader next year? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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