Leadership: Promoting Beliefs and Values


Because beliefs and values form the heart of an organization’s culture, great leaders never miss an opportunity to reinforce them. They know that once internalized, these beliefs and values affect the norms that influence day-to-day actions, determine what’s important, reinforce appropriate behavior, and change attitudes.

If these norms are to be institutionalized, management must support them by clear and visible actions. Therefore, management must live these values in their heads and their hearts. Otherwise, they may be inconsistent in applying them, or worse, fail to promote them in times of stress. If commitment is perceived as rhetoric without substance, the effort will fail.

Questions that can be answered include:

  • Does the company value ethical behavior over short-term business? If it’s the last day of the sales month, and the numbers look miserable, are people encouraged to do what’s best for the client or close the sale––even if it may jeopardize the long-term relationship with the client?
  • Are people rewarded only for the bottom-line performance or for the development of their people as well? Stories should show how individuals made it to the top of the organization while keeping the best interests of others in mind—rather than stepping on those in their way.
  • Do people live up to their promises? Was a promise made and kept to a client even though circumstances changed after the promise was made? This sends a message to all employees, as well as clients, that the organization can be trusted.
  • Are relationships lasting or made out of convenience? From a negative standpoint, are there stories about managers who disowned employees after they were promoted or transferred to another part of the organization?
  • Are employees treated with understanding when taking care of a sick child or parent?
  • What happens to someone who was once the star performer but who is now having a streak of bad breaks?

Additional Reading:
It’s Time for a New Style of Leadership
Attention Leaders: We Need to Talk

Are You Talking to Yourself?
Leadership: Creating a Vision

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  1. Raj says

    The cortnuy needs ORGANISATIONAL SKILLS much more than leadership skills. Good Local Govt is all about delivery of these basics that you aver do not need rocket science. Well, actually, if rocket science is about getting your vehicle to go where you want it to, in the time you want it to, and with the impact you want it to have, then, yes, it does take rocket science to deliver basic services.Rather than skills, the leaders need an understanding of what Deming calls Profound Knowledge. That is the prerequisite. They can then measure the right things and ask sensible questions that keep the system in a state of what Stafford Beer and Ashby call dynamic equilibrium delivering to those most basic needs.(By the way, Ghandi is spelled Gandhi.)

  2. Alex Dail says

    One of the great things I learned is when the vision, values and mission of a company are clearly established and understood through out a company the company and its employees are more flexible/adaptable. This in turn allows them to better meet customer needs and very little behavior is driven by staying safe with the boss or by a procedures manual. People are free to do what makes good sense.

  3. Frank Sonnenberg says

    Raj / Alex

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Raj. You’re right on the mark. I like that you applied this to government.

    Alex. I completely agree with your comment. I smiled when I read, “People are free to do what makes good sense.”



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