If I asked you to name your organization’s values would you be able to do it without looking them up?
Not only should you be able to do that, our research shows that how well a leader lives their organizational values explains 80% of the variation in leadership effectiveness. Eighty! A correlation that high essentially means that living your values IS high-performance leadership. This correlation appears to be even higher when we look at leaders with lower scores on their 360° reviews.
In other words, the solution to improving your skills as a leader and improving the performance of your team are one and the same. Here’s why.
Values are the foundation of leadership.
Many people ask me about my yoga practice and how I got my nickname of Chief Yoga Officer. When I taught yoga at work, I found a great crossover between business and yoga philosophy (the core tenets of yoga as opposed to the stretchy pants and poses). There are ‘eight limbs’ of yoga. The first one is all about your leadership principles, essentially espousing non-violence, truthfulness, generosity and peaceful energy, which are aligned with almost all corporate values. What would happen if everybody in your organization just lived these values, just as they are embodied in the eight limbs of yoga?
Values give us common language for feedback.
Values give us a shared understanding and common language for communicating development feedback and providing recognition. When we tie feedback or recognition to the specific organizational value that the person demonstrated, the feedback takes on a whole new dimension.
Values matter even if you have not defined them.
We ask people in assessments to rate their leaders and teams based on how well people live their values. People can answer this even if they do not have an official list of values, referring instead to universal truths like the yoga principles noted above. Most values are aligned with the core ways of how people would like to be treated.
You already have values – even if you haven’t published them. The difficulty is that everybody has their own definition. We like to say that our process of ‘defining values’ is less about creating something and more about collecting the many different personal definitions across the organization and refining them down into common themes.
Our leadership development challenge for you.
If you are not familiar with your values, today is the day to look them up. Ask yourself which value you truly live the most and give yourself some positive feedback about that. Then ask yourself which one you could live a little better, or a little more consistently. Set a development goal for yourself to find ways to live that value every day for the next 30 days and watch what happens. It’s magic.
This might all sound like ephemeral yoga speak, but think about it … if everybody in your organization lived at least one value just a little bit more each day, it is not a stretch to see how that would cultivate high-performance culture.
Everybody is a leader. What can you commit to?