I had the opportunity to visit with a young senior executive this week. His responsibilities include leading cultural change in an organization with over 40 years of heritage and strong leadership.
As we talked, he explained his dilemma: "The biggest challenge is to protect the values and long history of doing things well, while recognizing the need to lead toward the future." He continued, "In our organization, our stakeholders [his term for employees] are like our family. I feel a strong responsibility to those stakeholders."
What he said next was powerful: "I know that just chasing goals or metrics is not the answer. While they are important, they cannot drive long-term results. I believe that we must provide an experience for our team at every level that consistently supports who we are."
This senior executive, who is passionate about people, realizes that in order to be effective as leaders, we must do more than bark orders or come up with stale, meaningless systems. Strong leaders understand that leading your team well takes investment and creating an experience that leads to buy-in on a daily basis.
The days of coming to work and "punching a timecard" are over. In this competitive and global environment, we must develop people who understand and own the values behind the work.
Values-based leadership is hard, but as my new friend reminded me, it is well worth the energy and investment. Choose to create a values-based experience for those you lead, and you will make a difference.