It is so easy to talk. After all, it’s only words. Yet, these same words can come back and haunt you in the worse way. As a leader, this is a fact you need to be aware of. If you have shared your personal values as a leader, than the logical next step is to ensure that you make good on it.
From this, you will understand clearly that “sharing your personal values” is not just a cliche. It is not something that you “do” for your speeches. Your personal values should be exactly that – yours. Everyone have their beliefs, their likes and dislikes. Whether you choose to share them with others is your prerogative. However, it would be most unwise to try to create a false persona by blithely listing some “values” that you think others would appreciate.
Action speaks louder than words, and in the case of a leader, those actions can solidify or destroy all the goodwill and trust that have been built.
Let us go for a safe example. Kindness. That is a character trait. Must be kind to animals, that could be a possible personal value. Now, if this is really not a value that you hold dear to your heart, don’t say it. After a few beers, you go happily on your way, and then… you pat the dog, or you kick the cat? At a time when our guard is down, when we least expect it, our true values surfaces. It is bad enough to kick the cat, but there could be a million explanations and justifications. While that is bad, it is so much worse if you presented yourself as an animal lover, and then get caught in that despicable act. Kiss your leadership goodbye. You can still be “boss”; but you ain’t git no respect!
It is important to articulate your personal values, it is even more important not to be dishonest in any way about them. Some people are not even sure what their personal values are, and so find it difficult to articulate them. But when you ACT, your values shine through. So, be careful what you say. Your words are a testimony more powerful than you know. Your actions then become the final straw that will either seal that truth or break the illusion you try to create.
On final point, some leaders try to “walk the talk”. That is fine as long as the efforts are genuine. If you are building up new habits, if you are trying a new tact, fine. But never mis-represent that these are your already your values; your words, if not seen in action, mean nothing.
By John Benson