Display Your Values

Many of this summer’s obituaries for Sen. Robert Byrd noted that he always carried a copy of the Constitution in his pocket. That was a powerful symbol of how much he valued history and rules. A better-known example of a leader displaying his values was the sign President Truman kept on his desk: The buck stops here.

People look to their leaders to tell them what is important. Here are three ways you can share your values with the people looking to you for guidance:

  • What’s on the wall? Are your goals tucked in a folder or are they posted where everyone can see them daily? By prominently displaying your team’s goals—and their progress—you show them that those targets are important, and you keep everyone focused on meeting them.
  • What do you say? Do team members know your organization’s mission because they studied it during their orientations? Or do you refer to it daily and put assignments and goals into context?
  • With whom do you associate? If you say frontline workers are vital to your organization’s success, when was the last time you talked with them? Do you know them by name? At organization-wide events, do you mingle with people across departments or with only one or two groups?

Of course, it’s the actions that accompany the symbols that matter. As Sen. Patrick Leahy noted in a PBS NewsHour interview about Byrd, “The difference between him holding it up and any one of us holding it up, he could put it back in his pocket and recite it verbatim, the whole Constitution.” Be sure that you “walk the talk.”


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