On the first day of a Leadership Excellence Course, we share the first draft of our Personal Leadership Philosophy. By the end of the course, we have a working draft of the document to share with others and to help hold ourselves accountable. On day three of an Advanced Leadership Course, we explore our organization’s Core Values, defining them and attributing Normative Behavioral Statements to each listed value. Overlap between our individual philosophy and organizational values creates alignment, usually our most significant challenge - aligning our actions and our values. Most organizations simply put up posters listing values, with so-called leaders’ actions often displaying quite the opposite. Sound familiar?
These ideas came up twice in the past week. A client in a coaching session shared that their their organization has an amazing culture, and the client is nervous their amazing culture may be diminished, or worse, lost, as the result of rapid growth this calendar year. At about the same time, S. Chris Edmonds, a fellow “leadership traveler,” shared a copy of his book “the culture engine.” Great timing.
You see, Edmonds’ combines the idea of a leadership philosophy with organizational core values. He calls it an Organizational Constitution. It’s a very attractive and powerful construct. Just as actually creating alignment by demonstrating our values through actions, Edmonds’ process requires that an Organizational Constitution must be lived, should anticipate resistance, and requires gathering formal feedback on valued behaviors. This includes hiring based on values, just as Tony Hseih of Zappos learned.
Leaders share their leadership philosophy. Leaders live their leadership philosophy. Then they go further. Leaders Align Actions and Values.