“Values influence every aspect of our lives: our moral judgments, our responses to others, our commitments to personal and organizational goals. Values set the parameters for the hundreds of decisions we make every day.” --James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge
How do you keep a good manager motivated? What will drive a good manager to emotionally commit to an organization? This question is at the root of Stan Slap’s article, “Fully Committed?”, published in the fall issue of The Conference Board Review. The answer is one that devotees of The Leadership Challenge will find familiar: know your personal values and commit to them in order to commit emotionally to your organization. Recommitting to your personal values, not just the values of your company or organization, is in fact the core of what it takes to be a good manager. However, a organizations are often at odds with the very thing that will lead to this success—allowing managers to become leaders. Slap goes on to highlight “the great fear of the corporate organism: If I set you free to pursue your own priorities, you’ll leave me and I’ll die. The problem is, managers are already free. They’re free to detach, which is about as free as one can get.” Slap points out that corporation’s great fear, that too much freedom will lead to abandonment, is only facilitated by the enforced emotional detachment of refusing to let individuals align core values with company values.
So what does one do to combat this management/leadership dilemma? Define your values. The first two commitments from Model the Way direct participants to clarify values and then align these values with one’s actions. By doing this, you are working to create a better workspace for you and for your corporation. By becoming a leader and crusading for those values most important to you, you will become a more productive manager, with a greater emotional commitment to your organization. It’s exciting to see more research corroborating Kouzes and Posner’s findings on values and commitments—how important they are to an organization, how to implement them, and what really drives leadership. As Slap states, “It’s not what leaders do that’s important—it’s why they do it. Leadership is a motivation. It’s a purpose before it’s ever a practice. The worst thing in your own development as a leader is not to do it wrong—it’s to do it for the wrong reasons.” Figure out your “right reasons” and then figure out how to apply them to your company.
Read Stan Slap’s article.
Contributed by Halley Sutton.