Sunday, August 28, 2016

When values clash



The only way to lead is to lead by example.

A leader’s vision, actions and language become the unwritten guidelines for a company’s culture.  The way he decides and speaks may soon be the same behavior down the chain of command.  If the boss likes to say “fire them all,” his clone may bark even louder.

Confusion happens when the new leader is a maverick whose beliefs and methods go against the good values of the staff.

For example, I have heard of bosses whose mottos were something like  “sales at all costs”, “awards no matter what“ and “kill the competition.“  Such aggressive priorities may compel employees to resort to cheating, lying or other unfair trade practices they have not imagined themselves engaging in.

Another thing that a leader cannot do is to honor or openly idolize people with a dubious character or are suspected of being engaged in some wrongdoing.   If he does that, he is symbolically writing off similar “sins” of other employees. These may be from abusive use of office property to unauthorized spending of company funds.

To avoid confusion, leaders must be as consistent as possible in their speech.  They can not go on hiding behind excuses like  “I was only joking,” “ I was misinterpreted” or “ I was just mad at that time. “

One of the most ambiguous things a leader can do is to personally attack an employee who has legitimate questions about things seriously affecting the company.  If the leaders resent correction or inquiry, they can promote a climate of fear, suspicion and submission.

A company with a disordered value system cannot move ahead because conflicts at decision-making will happen every day at every level. The company may lose sight of its vision and mission,too.

An upright employee who is forced to compromise his values may fall sick eventually.  If he is doing things that he “cannot stomach”, he may actually develop an illness affecting his stomach. If he keeps hearing things he doesn’t want to hear, he may become hearing impaired.

Before thinking of moving to another department or resigning, try having  your real feelings reach the boss. Hopefully, he will be enlightened. Maybe he only feels justified presently because no one had the courage to speak to him.

If you are that controversial boss, here’s a thought from  Katherine W. Dean from the website The Journal of Values Based Leadership :


“ Values-based leadership connotes a plethora of different meanings, but based upon my experience in the corporate world, the concept is primarily defined as leading by example, that is, doing the right thing for the right reasons and not compromising  core principles. “

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