People do not like to be put in boxes, and just as important, people do not like to be in the dark, outside the door where company values and vision are shaped. People are less energized and tend to drift when they are unsure of how they should be operating within an organization. People need to see their leaders’ commitment to values, and they want a part in helping to shape their organization’s core values and vision.
So how do you show this? There are five steps to helping your company and your team stand for something greater and this week, we’re digging into step 2.
Examine your values
While attending seminary, Martin Luther King Jr. read extensively in the areas of history, philosophy, and religion. With each book and each discipline, he questioned what he truly believed. As he read, learned, and reflected, he molded his values and vision on the anvil of discovery.
This kind of personal searching is essential for every good leader. How can you clarify values, set vision, get beyond yourself, and stand for something greater if you have not participated in the intense, personal struggle to clarify, define, and establish who you are as a person? As a leader you will be asked many questions—economic, moral, and personal. How will you know what answers to give unless you have wrestled with some of the questions? How can you shape who you are without struggling with opposing values?
The result of this struggle is personal integrity and credibility. Abraham Lincoln did not just “discover” his vision for America. As a young man, he saw the ravages of poverty and exclusion. As a lawyer, he defended the rights of people. As a father, he witnessed the death of two of his children. Lincoln struggled and fought with others as well as himself, and the result was a clearer picture of his personal values and a more defined vision. The result was also a president of high integrity and purpose.