Tag Archives | Results

The Purpose of Leadership

Businessman Making Presentation To Office ColleaguesWhat is the leader’s reason for being? I see quotes and posts from all corners of the globe on this topic.

I’ve been lucky enough over the years to engage a number of leadership thinkers on this idea. The range of responses is wide!

Some suggest that the purpose of leadership is to deliver results through others. Others see the leader’s purpose as developing more leaders. Even others see the leader’s primary responsibility is to make the vision come to fruition.

I believe that effective leaders do all these things and more.

What is missing for me in most of these responses, though, is the answer to this vital question: “To what end?” Who or what is changed when “leadership” happens? Who is being served when “leadership” efforts are applied?

If the outcomes of leadership efforts primarily serve the leader (in the form of bonuses, credit, promotions, etc.), others enjoy fewer (or no) benefits from those efforts.

If leadership activities discount or erode employee contributions or value, that inhibits employee engagement. Team members who feel discounted or taken advantage of won’t serve customers kindly or respectfully, nor will they willingly apply their skills in service to team or company strategies and goals.

In 25 years of consulting with leaders, I’ve never observed self-serving leaders positively impact my “big three” – employee engagement, customer service, or results and profits. They might get short term results, but over the long term, each of the big three are negatively impacted.

Can a single, all-encompassing purpose statement for leadership be crafted? Here’s my best thinking at this point in time.

In The Culture Engine, I present a template for creating an effective organizational purpose statement. Let’s refine that template for leaders. We need a succinct declaration that explains what effective leaders do, for whom, and “to what end” – how employees and customers are positively served by leadership efforts.

What do effective leaders do? They set performance targets. They demand cooperative interaction. They validate efforts. They celebrate accomplishments and team work. They listen and learn. They refine policies and procedures to make employees’ jobs easier. They hold themselves and all others accountable for performance and values expectations.

Whom do effective leaders serve? Their primary customers are their team members. Their secondary customers are those who purchase the team’s (or company’s) products and services.

To what end do effective leaders serve? They inspire aligned contributions by all team members in a trusting, respectful work environment.

By combining these answers into a crisp statement, we arrive at this purpose of leadership:

“Effective leaders set high standards for performance and values, validate efforts and contributions, and ensure cooperative interaction and performance in a trusting, respectful work environment.”

Does this statement align with how your most effective leaders behaved? What is my leadership purpose statement missing? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Monkey Business – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Poor Practices Doom Workplace Inspiration

frustrated young business manI’ve been helping leaders create high performing, values-aligned organizations for over 17 years.

My first blog post – on April 17, 2010 (I was slow coming to the blogosphere!) – outlined the foundation of my proven culture refinement process: crafting clear performance expectations and clear values expectations, then holding everyone accountable for both.

This is my 263rd weekly blog post – and 178th weekly podcast. All of those efforts have promoted one big idea – that leaders must be as intentional about values as they are about performance.

My latest book, The Culture Engine, describes how leaders can create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. It’s all about clear expectations then ensuring accountability for both performance and values.

The benefits of aligning practices to an organizational constitution are astounding. Clients see 40 percent gains in employee engagement, 40 percent gains in customer service, and 35 percent gains in results and profits, all within 18 months of starting their culture refinement.

The increased interest in organizational culture enables some cool conversations. In one recent exchange, a journalist asked my opinion regarding employee engagement policies in organizations. My answer was that if an organization has policies that encourage employee engagement, that’s great – but that daily practices are much more important than policies alone.

Why? Practices – the daily plans, decisions, and actions by leaders and team members in an organization – either create workplace trust, dignity, and respect in every interaction or they don’t.

Companies should have policies that outline desired interaction quality – respectful treatment no matter what. But aligning practices to those desired behaviors is what creates workplace inspiration and trust.

Policies alone create awareness of desired behaviors. They don’t, however, guarantee aligned behaviors.

To ensure practices are aligned with policies, leaders must be role models and champions of employee engagement and workplace inspiration. To be a proactive champion is not a passive responsibility. It requires intention, time, energy, modeling, coaching, and redirecting by leaders to align plans, decisions, and actions to those policies, in every interaction, every day.

I don’t think organizations intentionally craft policies that erode employee engagement or workplace inspiration, but many policies do exactly that!

Most organizations and their leaders focus exclusively on results. It’s all they know. Their role models (bosses from their past and present) focused primarily on results. The metrics and dashboards in their organization measure and reward exclusively results. Policies reinforce this focus: set goals, then measure progress towards those goals.

Don’t misunderstand me: results are important! But when leaders put 100% of their focus on results, people will get those results in ways that may not be kind, considerate, or always ethical.

There is a better way. Our best bosses created a safe, inspiring work environment by making values as important as results. They gave us clear values expectations as well as clear performance expectations – and held us accountable for both.

How we behave to get desired results is as important as the results themselves.

Companies that are intentional about performance and values see the gains I note above – huge growth in employee engagement, customer service, and results.

Too few companies are intentional about values. Leaders think that people will behave nicely. Yet people behave badly (some worse than others) when the only thing that is measured, monitored and rewarded is results.

Policies that encourage employee engagement are a good start. The hard work comes after the policies are published, when every leader and team member aligns to practices that not only deliver on results, but do so in ways that treat everyone with dignity, trust, and respect.

How clear are values expectations in your organization? To what degree are team leaders and team members held accountable for both performance and values in your organization? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © .shock – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on my podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Hawthorne Effect and Your Culture

office ceilingWhat do you pay attention to in your work environment? Do you actively engage with players regularly to learn what’s going well and what’s not, or do they rarely see you? Or are you somewhere in between those extremes?

Interaction and attention from leaders can have a beneficial impact on employee’s feelings of contribution, value, and worth, which can boost productivity and service.

The Hawthorne Effect refers to a study done by Elton Mayo at Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works factory, outside of Chicago, IL, in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. The purpose of the study was to analyze the effects of workplace conditions on individual productivity.

Mayo and his team focused on two groups – a test group which endured the changes to their environment and a control group which operated in an unchanging work environment. Workers in the test group experienced a number of changes to their working conditions, including lighting, working hours, rest breaks, food offered during breaks, etc. Workers were involved in what changes were going to happen (how long and how frequently their breaks were, for example). Productivity was carefully monitored following each change. Workers were then asked if the change was beneficial, how it might be refined to test the change again, etc.

Mayo’s research found that, compared to the control group, nearly every change resulted in increased individual productivity. Even after all changes reverted to the original conditions, productivity increased.

The initial findings from this important study led to recommendations that leaders engage with members of the workforce. After all, it wasn’t the lighting or breaks that boosted performance, it was the engagement of the workers by the researchers.

Later analysis discovered some flaws in that original research as well as highlighting the social impact of workers being 1) experimented upon and 2) having a say in the changes that were implemented.

The test team bonded together like no other team in that factory. These women (all workers at the time were women) felt their ideas were valued. They were working together to help work conditions be more beneficial for their peers across the factory – that gave their efforts meaning beyond the day-to-day production activities they faced.

This is the most significant finding – in my humble opinion – from the Hawthorne Works research. Making team members and teams feel valued as well as helping them find meaning and purpose beyond their own tactical skill application boosts employee well-being and productivity.

You don’t need a formal organizational initiative to value team members and help them find meaning – contribution to the greater good – in their efforts. It just takes time, energy, and engagement.

Leaders, that’s your job. Embrace it and enjoy it!

How do your leaders show team members they appreciate them? How is your team serving a “greater good” today? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Want hands-on guidance for boosting productivity while reducing drama at work? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This series, based on my book, The Culture Engine, meets one-morning-a-month starting in March.

Photo © xy – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

One Company’s Values Journey, Part II

Luck-02This week I continue my interview with the Luck Companies Chief Leadership Officer, Mark S. Fernandes. Mark is the person charged with transforming Luck Companies into a Values Based Leadership organization.

Last week we learned about the genesis of Luck Companies’ decision to change its culture. In 2004, senior leaders crafted four values – leadership, integrity, commitment, and creativity – and defined corresponding behaviors for each of those values. That was phase one, the foundation of Luck Companies’ transformation into a values based organization.

In 2009, senior leaders came to the conclusion that organizational cultures are shadows of the leaders. To have the culture that they wanted, Luck Companies’ leaders had to go first, modeling the way as an example for all others to follow. That was phase two, which they’re still engaged in.

I told Mark I loved the emphasis on defining their company values in measurable, behavioral terms. Mark said, “This became obvious to us in the first months of phase one. When we rolled our new values out to the company in 2005, outcome statements and corresponding behaviors were attached to each of the four values. These became part of every associates’ performance reviews that year.

In phase two, those behaviors became part of the Values Based Leadership 360 that all formal leaders complete annually.”

Accountability for values is much easier when you’ve defined specific behaviors for desired values. Typically when a company sets new values expectations, some leaders and players just don’t fit in the “new culture.” I asked Mark if Luck Companies’ had experienced that. Mark said, “We typically have 12-14 people on our senior leadership team. Over the past 11 years we have ‘lovingly set free’ eleven senior leadership team members.

Most were very smart people. They were wonderful human beings who performed quite well. It just became obvious by their attitudes, actions, and behaviors that their personal values did not align with the company’s values.”

If you’re not going to hold everyone accountable for valued behaviors, “your values are just words hanging on a wall,” Mark explained. “You’re better off not having them.”

How do leaders at Luck Companies know their culture is on track? Mark said, “We analyze trend data from our annual leader 360’s and our annual associate engagement surveys. We hold ‘What’s on Your Mind?’ sessions at all locations throughout the year.

We demand transparency and feedback. We train for it, assess for it, and reward for it through out evaluation process. There is daily dialog across the enterprise relative to our mission and values – our organizational constitution.”

The big question for any company and it’s culture is about the “big three” – engagement, service, and results. Culture impacts each of these, deeply. Mark said, “The impact of Values Based Leadership has far exceeded our expectations. In our most recent engagement survey, 91% of our associates said they were engaged! The Hay Group’s global average is 30-40%.

Our employee effectiveness score was 84% compared to the Hay Group’s top performing benchmark of 55%. Our customer satisfaction score is 76% compared to an industry norm of 55%. Our results show us outperforming industry norms by similar margins.”

I’m inspired by the work Mark and his peers are doing at Luck Companies. They are proof that being intentional about values pays off – in many ways.

I’m indebted to Mark and to Megan Dougherty who willingly and ably facilitated this interview.

What are your takeaways from the Luck Companies’ values journey? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google +.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Want hands-on guidance for boosting productivity while reducing drama at work? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This series, based on my book, The Culture Engine, meets one-morning-a-month starting in March.

Photo © Luck Companies and Values Based Leader. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

One Company’s Values Journey

VBL-definitionIf you’re a frequent reader of these pages, you know I’m always enthused to discover high performing, values-aligned organizations.

I’m delighted to bring you the Luck Companies story. Over the next several weeks I’ll share my conversation with Mark S. Fernandes, Chief Leadership Officer, the person charged with transforming Luck Companies into a Values Based Leadership organization.

Most companies don’t start by being intentional about the culture they want. They have a desired product or service so they build their business around crafting those desired elements and getting them into customers’ hands, under budget and profitably. Only when company leaders stop to examine the health of their culture do they actively engage in making it better.

Luck Companies is a 92-year-old organization based in Richmond, VA. On first glance, you’d see Luck Companies as a stone company – crushed stone, architectural stone, and even clay courts. A deeper look finds an organization that is intentional, focused, and committed to igniting human potential through Values Based Leadership (VBL).

I asked Mark, “What was the genesis of Luck Companies’ decision to change it’s culture?”

Mark explained, “When Charles Luck IV became the CEO and President in 1995 – our third generation leader from the Luck family – we were a small, tight-knit, family owned and operated organization. We decided to grow the company, and grow we did!

By 2002, we had close to 1,300 associates and sales had quadrupled. Cash flow increased by nine times during that timeframe.”

Along with that growth came organizational stresses and dysfunction. Mark explained, “We no longer looked like the company Charlie’s dad and grandfather had built. We brought in a consultant to work with our leadership team.

That first morning, the consultant introduced himself and asked us to take out a piece of paper and to write down everything we wanted to change about the company. He gave us ten minutes. With all the dysfunction, we each had a lot to say!

The consultant then asked a vital question: ‘How many of you wrote down yourselves?’

That question changed our lives forever. We began our values journey soon after and in 2009, we amped up the expectations and became a Values Based Leadership organization.”

I asked Mark to define VBL. He said, “Values Based Leadership is living, working, and leading in alignment with your core values, principles, beliefs, and purpose to in turn ignite the extraordinary potential in those around you.

Our company values are leadership, integrity, commitment, and creativity. We began our values journey by defining corresponding behaviors for each of our four values. We wanted to innovate for the future while preserving our values core. We felt that commitment and integrity were values that had existed in the organization since its founding. We wanted to preserve those going forward.

Leadership and creativity were two values that would carry us into the future.

We’ve had two phases in our journey. The first was to become a Values Based Organization (2004-2009) and the second as a Values Based Leadership organization. The distinguishing point came from learning that company cultures (defined by values) are shadows of the leaders.

To have the culture we wanted, leaders had to go first, modeling the way as an example for all others to follow.”

My interview with Mark continues next week.

How well are your team or company’s values lived in your organization? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google +.

I’m indebted to Megan Dougherty who willingly and ably facilitated my conversation with Mark – and added to my understanding of values-based leadership at Luck Companies.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Want hands-on guidance for boosting productivity while reducing drama at work? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This series, based on my book, The Culture Engine, meets one-morning-a-month starting in March.

Photo © Luck Companies and Values Based Leader. All rights reserved.

Subscribe!Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.


Don’t miss any of Chris’ posts, podcasts, or updates – Subscribe Now!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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