Values are the lifeblood of thriving families, communities, and organizations.
Values drive our behaviors.
They reveal and reinforce what is truly important to each of us.
At an organizational level, values clarify what it means for everyone to be on the same page. When properly leveraged, values tell a powerful story for an organization. One that inspires people and creates a beautiful sense of who we are – our culture.
The role of leadership is a display of how values reveal purpose.
Leaders who boldly live their values serve as both a mirror and map. A leader’s mirror and map are like two sides of a leadership coin:
The leader’s mirror is about self-reflection and self-awareness.
The leader’s map is about attention toward others.
One Side of the Coin: The Leader’s Mirror
With a mirror, the reflective leader is aware of how one’s values are revealed in their daily behavior and how they affect others.
While there are many notable attributes we might “see in the mirror,” there’s one that shows a commitment to both humility and personal development: changing your mind.
How open are you to changing your mind? Not occasionally, but as a daily posture? This isn’t about indecisiveness or poor decision-making. It’s about the deep-rooted pursuit of the life-long learner.
Sometimes you change your mind as the result of new information and learning. Expanded understanding can lead toward positive change. Other times, a change comes as the result of discovering a new vantage point.
Whether in the moment or at a later time, do you ever notice something you missed in a meeting or conversation? Or do you recognize you made an assumption that you need to investigate?
The effectiveness of a mirror increases with the precision of your observations. The more open you are to see what is happening around you the more likely you are to recognize what you previously missed.
A leader recognizes that there are always options in how something or someone can be understood. Perspective is seen as a choice.
Sometimes, to maintain our values, we must reorient our behavior to reflect an expanded perspective of how our values are best expressed.
The Other Side of the Coin: The Leader’s Map
The map is the other side of the leadership coin.
When you look across the landscape of your organization’s hopes and dreams, what do you see? Not the specifics per se, but the climate.
How do you hold the tension between hope and failure?
Some leaders tend to avoid this tension, opting to internalize the struggle and put on the best face possible so that others stay positive. For others the tendency is to criticize and ruthlessly eliminate failure as an option. Still others are eternal optimists. They’ll go so far as to constantly suggest, “we’re knocking it out of the park.” As if life is a metaphorical game, and we’re all superstar sluggers.
Understanding the feelings and needs of others begins with acceptance.
What if you accepted the tension of unequivocal hope and failure?
Acceptance can be sobering and powerful. Most importantly it is the first step for any leader to inspire courage and exploration.
For leaders, holding the tension of hope and failure begins in one’s own life.
It is impossible to be the principal guide of a flourishing organization without accepting your own hopes and failures without judgment. Yet it is not natural to accept our own flaws and failures. It also seems difficult for us to believe we are worthy of our hopes and to pursue them.
As a leader you have the choice to accept that your failure and hope is a sacredly held tension. If you make that choice to hold this tension you become a lighthouse for acceptance in others.
Organizations with these kinds of leaders create cultures that attract the right people with the best talent.
Building the Value of Your Leadership Coin
As you continue to write the story of 2018, what’s one thing you can do to increase your self-awareness or the quality of your attention concerning others?
Is there a word of intention that can serve as a reminder to you throughout the coming weeks and months?
Finally, is there someone with whom you can share your intention?