Competing inside or outside your organization doesn’t have to be synonymous with crushing the competition. Keep your soul while you succeed.
As business leaders, we can do well in multiple venues without eliminating others that are in our approximate same space.In fact, it is a strategic advantage to develop missions and goals that are based on a strong set of values, and serve a higher purpose beyond simply beating your rival. By serving a mission that is reflective of your values, you will attract exceptional staff who will be the most engaged, most passionate, and most likely to give your organization a competitive advantage.
It is not complicated, but it is hard.
In my new book Lead True, I explain that there are three key elements that will help you accomplish both success and living your values. These “three pillars” form the structure on which values-based leadership is built. They allow us to follow our values, keep our commitments, and persevere through adversity.
The first is Courage, called by Aristotle the ‘first virtue’ because without it, it is difficult to implement any of the others. Courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear. Courage means fear doesn’t get to make your decisions. Dr. King famously demonstrated tremendous amounts of courage over and over despite expressing the need to overcome his fears and the fears of his supporters.
The next critical element is Discipline; not the discipline of correction or control, but the discipline outlined by Jim Collins of careful, thoughtful, organized, and planned movement forward. Courage to stand for your values, but discipline to follow through when that very talented high-flyer behaves so badly that it disrupts everyone else in the workplace. Will you live your values, or look the other way and let it slide because you don’t have the discipline to follow through?
This is a battle between short-term expediency and building long-term values-based culture. It is one thing to declare, “Our staff is most important,” but it takes discipline to stick to that plan and not immediately turn to layoffs in the midst of a tough economic downturn. Discipline supports your values and puts a plan in place for your courage to be effective. Discipline keeps your values on track and stops you from drifting away… or falling off a cliff.
The last key element is Durability. Durability is the ability to persevere, endure criticisms, and weather complications. Durability is seldom talked about, but is essential for a consistent application of your values despite the constant internal and external pressures coming at you from all directions. While discipline is more of an internal operating plan, durability responds to those outward and often negative, disruptive pressures trying to push you off your values.
If you want to lead, and not be out in the field alone, you need to demonstrate consistency in the courage to implement your values, discipline to follow through in a predictable fashion, and the durability to stay on task when the inevitable complications arise. Courage to take a stand, discipline to organize an approach forward, and durability to tolerate the ups and downs of the struggle.
These are the critical pillars to help you live your values and thrive in a very complex world.