Values-based leadership: How to guide others to self-empowerment
How does values-based leadership begin? Identifying its necessity is a primary objective.
It isn’t hard to determine that today’s corporate business environment suffers from its own version of Global Warming – a buzzing miasma of nano-second mergers, crazy-smart startups, and equally crazy-dumb failures, scandals, and bankruptcies. All of these daily events were predicted in the 1980s by cyberpunk (a science fiction subgenre) authors: William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker, John Shirley and Lewis Shiner. Their observations and warnings were often ridiculed.
Many of the current woes: high turnover, low morale, and low productivity could have been avoided by application of values-based leadership starting with the leadership team modeling the way for the rest of the organization. Emphasizing guiding people from passive acceptance into active creation and change provides genuine empowerment in both the experiential and emotional sense.
How does values-based leadership begin? Identifying its necessity is a primary objective. We will describe a hypothetical executive client who has been told by a trusted business associate that the client’s leadership style is hypercritical and perceived as ‘rude’ by his subordinates and co-workers. The business associate even went so far as to state, “Everyone here is afraid to tell you that…” The client understands this perception could be negative for employee morale and harmful to the work environment. The client decided a change in attitude, behavior, and management style can change the overall work environment and employee morale, as well as increase revenue and productivity.
The next step? Listen. Observe.
A CEO craved feedback to better his growth and productivity and knew colleagues dreaded interactions. A two-day, 360-degree, performance assessment enabled a deep-drill into areas for improvement. The executive found strength to overcome negative behaviors driven by genuine desire for an increased respect and support from the workplace co-workers and subordinates. Over the months following the assessment, the changes within the executive and the organization were tangible and productive. The executive delivered inspiration to the workplace environment and co-workers, but also created new revenue streams improving the bottom-line by 17% in a highly competitive marketplace.
You must not only listen to a client – you must hear what they are not saying out loud.
Employing this action enables separation of the signals from noise; detect in people the potential to be their greatest selves in life and business. There is no standardized template or series of steps that ensure a positive change in this process. Guidance is better than pre-set answers.When looking for executive coaching, the higher-value coaches uses a methodology including observation, listening, learning, and then asking questions to find hidden truths versus what may be obvious. There are reasons for behavior, and they are not always obvious.
The best practice process is a diverse package of face-to-face, as well as a mixture of digital and electronic-based conversation, teaching, and training, as well as question and answer dialogue – for a healthy balance of self-reflection, self-instruction, authority mentoring, and knowledgeable guidance from a subject matter expert (SME) who has ‘been there, done that, and got the tee-shirt’ who educationally shares their own experience and success story.
Leadership development is driven by insights into behavior; enabling leaders to gain awareness of how others perceive them, but also adapt to regulate behavior to ensure a fertile ground for productivity and creativity. Educating and assessing others can provide reflective insight to oneself. The quote from John Allen Paulos holds true, “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is…” Theodore Roosevelt also stated, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Both sayings represent – two ‘Great Truths’ or ‘Great Realities.’ We must come to terms with the truth about reality and take action accordingly. This isn’t easy and would be meaningless otherwise. Value-based leadership brings humanity into sharper focus. Anyone who works for a living – from a minimum-wage laborer to a software prodigy earning millions – has feelings, hopes, and fears.
According to Harvard Business Review, 80% of employee turnover can be directly or indirectly attributed to the personal capability of the leader. Despite the multiform universe of businesses, leaders, managers, and executivesshare a common struggle to develop, inspire, motivate, and maintain their diverse teams. This cannot be achieved using outmoded top-down control. It can be achieved by setting an example for the rest of your executive team.
By working to improve your own leadership skills, you will set an example for others. Take the time to self-reflect and identify on shortcomings with a trained coach. Use their guidance to move forward to improving management and personality styles within a work environment. Use listening skills, as well as body language, to hear what is being said and not expressed verbally. Use your new truths to devise a positive carefully mapped plan for improvement and watch profits soar, the professional business environment become more team-oriented, and workers starting to enjoy being at work in fulfilling jobs.
This piece was originally published in The Philadelphia Business Journal.*
Kelly A. Meerbott, Principal of You: Loud & Clear, Inc., provides leadership coaching focused on helping successful senior leaders achieve positive, long-term change in behavior for themselves, their staff, and teams. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.youloudandclear.com.