I came across this article recently about how current corporate leaders are not valuing values quite so much as other things. The top ranked things were:
1. Leadership – Shaping and inspiring the actions of others
2. Direction – Capacity to articulate where the company is heading and how to get there.
How did Shared Values fare in the assessment? Only 8% rated this as of crucial importance, compared with 49% for leadership and 46% for direction. I thought well maybe direction was considered to encompass the values piece. Or maybe leadership does that. Yet, if that were so, wouldn’t Shared Values be rated as crucial by a few more of our illustrious business leaders?
First, what does it mean, this gobbledy-gook sounding phrase? Shared Valuuuuues. What? We’re talking about running businesses here, not looking for a flavorful topping for our breakfast pancakes.
Shared values are an articulation of what a business stands for and thus drives priorities, direction, and vision. The tricky part is that failure of the leadership to articulate (and then consistently demonstrate) the values doesn’t mean that some form of shared values won’t evolve from leadership actions and company incentives perhaps into something a bit mis-directed. It doesn’t take a rocket genius to see what the outcome of unbalanced priorities and unclear values is on corporate America. Enron anyone? Banking and finance industry run amok?
Sustainable, consistently high-performing businesses have their performance platform connections in order and values is one of them. Don’t believe me? How about Peter Drucker? Peter Drucker’s 3 Major Areas for Organizational Success is the business version of the Performance Platform Connections. As follows…
- Generating Direct Results (Connect to Self)
- Developing People for Tomorrow (Connect to Others)
- Building of Values (Connect to Source)
Generating direct results makes sense because organizations must sustain themselves short term by providing resources and value back to stakeholders before they can expect to acheive long term sustainability. It’s a lot like organizational natural selection.
Developing people is an investment in the business’ future talent pool and helps to continue generating direct results. Developing people as a strategy also gives back to the employees (major stakeholders) to engender some loyaly and social support, which isn’t too easy to come by in this age of turning immediately to cutting headcount to save salary outlays while costing untold $$’s in lost productivity, outplacement, lawsuits, survivor morale lapses, and across the board disappearing loyalty.
Which brings us to shared values. Businesses can do pretty darn well for a fairly long time without having this piece of the puzzle fully intact, but there will inevitably be a correction point, which can be sudden and hard hitting. If you take the long enough view, it’s obvious how important these shared values are to viability. Maybe our leaders are missing that ultra long view either through annually oriented incentives or a lack of appropriate time horizon. I don’t know that I’m smart enough myself to identify the precise reason things are out of balance, but I can see that they are.