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Will Our Values Last?

My guess is that you won’t be able to answer this question, but you ought to be very glad someone asked it. Leaders help establish, shape, and nurture organizational values. A leader who goes home at night knowing their team lived their values that day has done the job of a leader well. But values are fragile things. When they are ignored or talked about but not practiced, they revert to words on a page rather than guides to make decisions by.

People in organizations that have gone through mergers or acquisitions will recount stories that reveal that integrating systems is much easier than combining cultures. Mismatched values, opposite views of the future, or competing styles of leadership can be insurmountable obstacles to success.

So, what’s a leader to say when asked this question? How does a leader nurture hope when it seems in short supply? By being authentic. Authentic means saying, "I don’t know." Authentic means sharing your feelings and saying, "I worry about that, too." Authentic means being brave during change: "This is hard for all of us." Authentic means hanging in there: "I promise I’ll be here with you tomorrow." Authentic means keeping your team focused: "During this time of change, let’s build our reputation as a team by focusing on our customers." Authentic means being a leader.