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LEADERSHIP IS A PROCESS OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE, WHICH MAXIMISES THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF A SHARED GOAL.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
What do US companies, Zappos, Ben and Jerry’s, and Southwest Airlines have in common? They are all financially successful, values-driven companies.
A lot of companies claim to be values-driven. They publish their values and use them in marketing messages. However, this does not necessarily mean their values guide decision-making and behaviours company-wide on a day-by-day basis.
To know for certain, you can investigate whether leadership practices and company policies are aligned with their published vision and values. But there’s a simpler and quicker way to tell: pay attention to your own experience as a customer.
Here are five quick ways you can tell if an organisation is really values-driven.
1. Employees remember what the company’s values are.
Ask three employees what the values of the company are.
Can they quickly recall them?
Do they repeat the same values?
2. Employees can describe specific activities and behaviours that demonstrate what the values look like in action.
Ask the employees to give you examples of how the values they listed are lived in the company –what behaviours or actions do they see that exemplify each of the values?
It’s not enough to just have a list of values. The same words can mean different things to different people.
Values like “teamwork” “innovation” or “ownership” need to be clearly defined so they are understood by all and can be implemented consistently.
3. The company’s values are visibly integrated into how they do business and are not just something extra they do on the side.
It is common knowledge that since its inception, Ben and Jerry’s has built a reputation for caring more about people than profit, providing leadership in social and environmental responsibility. And although the company was sold to Unilever in 2000, CEO Jostein Solheim recently provided reassurance that the essence has not changed, stating:
“The world needs dramatic change to address the social and environmental challenges we are facing. Values led businesses can play a critical role in driving that positive change. We need to lead by example, and prove to the world that this is the best way to run a business. Historically, this company has been and must continue to be a pioneer to continually challenge how business can be a force for good and address inequities inherent in global business.”
4. The company’s public message matches your own experience as a customer.
Our advice to companies is Don’t make a claim and then miss the mark, consistently. We consumers resent it and you actually lose credibility.
5. Use your own personal experience to identify the real company values.
Anyone who has flown on Southwest Airlines can tell you without reading their ads that having fun is one of their core values. And indeed, on the careers page of their Website, Southwest Airlines recruits specifically for people who “want the freedom to be creative, dress casually, and have fun on the job.”