“Daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about hard things” – Brene’ Brown
I wanted to discuss a leader’s values with you after repeatedly hearing the term, “America’s Values” blasted across the media stream in the past few weeks. We are destined to hear more of this term as we get deeper into the political season leading up the 2020 election for President. It is hard to grasp clearly what “America’s Values” are if we do not know what our own values are.
As a leader, it is imperative that you understand your “values” and how they impact your leadership. As we strive for consistency in our leadership, our demonstration and example of our values becomes very important to the desired outcome.
In my second blog post, Ethics, Morals, and Values defined, I discussed my understanding of the term values as what you recognize and hold dear, those beliefs that you would not negotiate. I also told you where I felt my values came from: family, traditions, culture, and faith. Since each of us was raised differently and in different families and circumstances, some of our values may be different too.
If you, the leader, do not have a firm grasp of what you will and won’t stand for, your leadership experience will be more turbulent, inconsistent, and difficult for others to buy into. Without follower buy-in, you are not leading.
So, let’s analyze one leader’s values (me) and see if that analysis assists you in clearly identifying what your personal leader values are. Some would probably advise against being so open with you, but I clearly recognize my role is to provide a positive and educational model of leadership for you to learn from or to possibly emulate. I am also keenly aware that there are positive and negative learning activities; both shape who we become as leaders.
My leader values, not in any certain order, are integrity, service, excellence, honesty, transparency, faith, and commitment. I will not compromise my position with regards to these seven specific values in leadership. Each of these seven, for me, are black and white. I work hard to ensure others know this and that I am reminded each day of their significance in my life.
As you might imagine, it is not easy in our 21st century world to stand firm and focused in these areas. It seems that no matter how hard we, as leaders, work to provide the proper role modeling, messaging, and example, the society at-large seems to be going in the directly opposite direction at times and that too is impacting those who follow us.
As an example, let’s pick one of my values, integrity, and see how it is shaped from both me the leader and by society at-large. Integrity to me is simple and means always doing the right thing regardless of situation or potential outcome. If you have strong integrity, regardless of the situation, you will make the right choices to facilitate the right outcome. It is my self-control function and the bedrock piece of my character. Often, across my leadership journey, followers have remarked that they could always rely on my unwavering integrity when difficult situations presented themselves. I remember once having to make a challenging decision regarding a staff member who had chosen to violate the written Air Force standards of professionalism for their paygrade and duty position as an instructor of Junior Noncommissioned Officers in a leadership training institution. Realistically, it was not a difficult situation as the demonstration of a contrary and negative behavior that could negatively affect our Air Force, the reputation of the educational staff, and the students.
An integrity example from society at-large that comes quickly to mind is the case of the Benghazi crisis during President Obama’s administration. When the tragic situation occurred, instead of coming forward with the actual boots-on-the-ground facts and details, it was decided within the administration to present a false narrative of what occurred. In my opinion, if integrity would have been the driving factor in deciding what to tell the American people, the whole video-sparked-outrage theory would have never been presented and the character and integrity of numerous senior officials would never have been questioned.
I hope these two short but real, examples helped you reflect on your personal leader values. Your values matter and they are critical to your leadership of self and of others. It is a much easier and more productive leadership journey if you have them clear in your mind and fully on display as you lead from the front in all of your actions as a leader. Stay strong! ~JETSR