I love my wife. That’s one reason we’ve stayed married over 30 years. We love watching movies, traveling, and cooking together (she is most certainly the cook, I just stir when she tells me).
I also appreciate my wife. I appreciate the way she decorates the house and makes it feel “homey.” I appreciate how she keeps the house running by balancing our family finances. And I appreciate how she keeps me informed about family and friends by reading me Facebook posts.
And I value my wife. The thing I value most is how she makes me a better me. She keeps me looking good through her great sense of fashion, helps me find the right words to difficult conversations, and regularly offers advice on my speaking business. While I may not always treat her like the treasure she is, I value and cherish her beyond words.
So what’s the difference between the three? Is one more important than the other? Do I really need all three for a successful marriage? Let’s start this brief exploration with a few definitions:
Love: To have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for.
Appreciate: To be grateful or thankful for; to be fully conscious or aware of.
Value: Consider someone or something to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of.
In simpler terms, love is about an emotional connection, appreciation is thankfulness, and value reflects importance and worth.
So, yes, for a successful marriage, I would say all three are needed. And it’s all three that helped Pat and me celebrate 31 years last November.
But what about the corporate world? Do leaders need these three characteristics to be effective? As in marriage, I would say yes.
Let’s start with love. Not to sound too soft or mushy, but I’m convinced that a love for people is required for positive, effective leadership. I’m not talking about a passionate love one has for a spouse or a child but a love based on friendship. Plato and Aristotle talked about philia love which is reflected in shared goodwill. It’s a love that wants to connect with people on a real basis and wants to see others succeed.
Next is appreciation which is about gratitude. Being thankful for the work a colleague or direct report does and for the results they bring to the team. Key here is actually expressing that thankfulness with words.
Which brings us to Value, an emotion or characteristic that is (sadly) rarely shared. Valuing teammates or direct reports is about acknowledging a person’s worth, their gifts, and how they make the team better.
This is especially true for people who are different from ourselves. For example, I’m a pretty loud person. And I’m funny — at least I think so. And if there was a team full of me’s, we would have a blast! It would be a constant party! Can’t promise how much work we’d accomplish but we’d have fun trying.
For me to be my best and for my team to be its best, I need someone on my team who is a little quieter and someone who is a little more serious. I need that person to tap me on the arm during a meeting and say, “Hey, let’s be serious for a minute.”
By that same token, the quiet person needs me, the person who craves conversation and banter. That quiet person needs me to say, “Hey, we’ve heard from everyone but you and your opinion is important. Let’s hear it.”
You see, together, that quiet, serious person makes me a better me. And the loud, lighthearted person I am can bring out some of the same in that quiet, serious person. And together, we’ll do great work!
I need that person! I value that person for how they challenge me and make me better. And how they make the team better!
I’m convinced leaders need all three emotions in order to build a high-performance team. Organizations can also have an impact on performance and engagement by building cultures that revolve around fostering relationships, recognition, and valuing people for the unique individuals they are.
But how? Can an organization really build a culture that revolves around these three critical characteristics? Absolutely! And we’ll explore that next month!
Our values should guide every conversation, decision, and interaction. Our values should anchor every product and service we provide and every channel we operate. If we can’t link what we do to one of our values, we should ask ourselves why we’re doing it. It’s that simple.
We have five primary values that are based on our vision and provide the foundation for everything we do:
The above verbiage sounds great, doesn’t it? These are values of a major U.S. bank in support of their vision: “We want to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.” Who wouldn’t want to work for or do business with a company that believes this?
Sadly, the above words, taken directly from the Wells Fargo website, mean absolutely nothing. A slow-burning scandal that took place for years, low-level bank employees siphoned money from customers and opened bogus accounts and cards using current customers’ personal information, all to meet sales quotas and get sales bonuses. Obviously, this bank’s belief in ethics and customers was simply rhetoric.
In the end, Wells Fargo customers lost money and 5,300 bank employees lost their jobs. One of those employees was Carrie Tolstedt, the senior executive in charge of Wells Fargo’s branches. Amazingly, even though arguably she was the senior executive in charge of the fraudulent scheme, she was able to walk away with a $125 million bonus!
How can this happen? How can a company that espouses the customer and ethics have such widespread fraud? I believe it’s a lack of accountability and a lack of leadership.
I’m confident that if you asked Wells Fargo employees, “What are Wells’ values and how do you live them?” you would get blank stares in return. In fact, asking employees to simply recite the values would be met with that same blank response. Obviously, no one at Wells Fargo was asking employees to name and live out their values. To Wells Fargo employees, those values were simply a nice plaque that hung on the bank branch walls.
While all employees are responsible for living out the corporate values, the person who should live out those values more than anyone is the top leader, in this case Wells Fargo’s CEO John Stumpf. Even when announcing Tolstedt’s departure, he complimented her for being “a champion for our customers.” Apparently, employees, ethics, and customers were just words on a wall for Mr. Stumpf as well.
So how can organizations avoid Wells Fargo’s situation? By openly talking about corporate values, by practicing those values daily, and by having a leadership team that models those values. If you aren’t putting deliberate effort against those values, they will not become ingrained in everyday behaviors and actions.
But what about your company and your leadership? What if your leaders refuse to live out the corporate values? First, you have a choice to make. Do you stay or go? Do you remain with your current organization where “gutless leadership,” a term used to describe Mr. Stumpf’s governance, could lead the entire organization down a very wrong path? Or do you find another organization where leadership believes in and lives out their values?
Second, and most importantly, think about your own actions. Regardless of how leadership and everyone around you behave, you can be true to your corporate values. With every action, decision, and conversation, you have an opportunity to align with your organization’s mission and values.
So hold yourself accountable to making your organization’s values ring true. Doing so will most likely help you engage more with your work and your colleagues, ultimately finding greater job success and satisfaction.
Do you have any corporate values stories, either good or bad? Please share and start a conversation!
In his article “Core Values or Corporate Dogma?” author and Talent Acquisition professional Ed Nathanson questions the need for corporate values. With a very negative spin throughout the article, the author suggests a corporate values program is “pushing corporate dogma and rules down employees’ throats.” Mr. Nathanson also says values-based companies force employees to “get on board or get out” and states some employees, particularly “innovators or disruptors,” most likely don’t “want to have to forcefully prescribe to a belief system created by someone else.”
When asked about their workplace, Mr. Nathanson says happy employees “are likely to talk about the work they are doing, their great teammates and the environment/culture they work in.” I agree with Mr. Nathanson here. The author continues, though, arguing that by not mentioning values, those happy employees don’t want them or believe in them.
But what makes for a great culture? Values!
In her article “Core Values: Wall Posters or Culture Builders?” for Psychology Today, author Jennell Evans defines core values as the “behavioral norms expected to be upheld by all when interacting to accomplish work together.” More simply, values are how an organization thinks and acts. So even though employees may not give credit to core values as the source of their happiness as Mr. Nathanson argues, it is those values that produce a healthy culture that in turn makes employees happy!
While I disagree with Mr. Nathanson, the question posed by Ms. Evans is spot on. Do values shape a corporate culture or are they simply “words on the wall”? Sadly, for many organizations, core values are meaningless. Unless an organization, particularly an organization’s leadership, is willing to spend exhaustive energy making their core values come alive and stay alive, words such as respect, trust, excellence, and customer service will be just that – words.
Most if not all organizations have values that are acceptable to all employees. Take the above-mentioned “Excellence,” for example. Four of the Fortune 10 companies mention Excellence in their Values proposition. I’ve also seen Accountability, Integrity, and Caring. Who would argue with any of these values? In fact, many people will say these values along with others such as Commitment, Hard Work, and Flexibility are not just their organization’s values; they are personal values as well.
So why not let employees live by their own Code of Conduct? Why should an organization expect employees to “get on board” with core values? Because an organization’s performance depends on everyone rowing with the same cadence. This means all employees must know what the company stands for, how they expect employees to show up every day. If these core values line up with an employee’s personal values, so much the better!
Core values also help organizations make decisions, particularly in difficult situations. What if the business finds itself over-staffed when mired in a challenging business environment? How is an employee treated when they make a mistake, even a costly one? How does the company respond when an employee breaks the rules or is dishonest? Core values deeply rooted throughout the organization helps it “live by the rules,” and helps it move the business forward in an impartial, consistent manner.
So core values, if proactively promoted by the organization and lived out in daily interactions among all employees, build a healthy culture. That healthy culture allows employees to do their best work and enjoy their organization. And if employees enjoy showing up every day and they do great work, that organization is going make a “Best Place to Work” list, a list every organization should strive for.
So know your corporate values. Live them daily. If you’re a supervisor, know them and hold your people accountable to them. Doing so will build engaged employees and an engaging culture, two critical components to business success.
Agree? Disagree? Do you think employees should memorize corporate values? Do values make a difference in your organization? So many questions! Tell me what you think!
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