What Guides Your Behaviour As A Leader?By Uju Onwuzulike
Chief Results Officer, MCL
“Behaviour is a mirror in which everyone displays his own image”…… Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Every well established company or organization is expected to have set of core values. These core values are highly important and are carefully chosen by organizations to guide and drive their behaviours. Sadly, most of the problems we face today in organizations like: accountability issues, commitment issues and integrity issues etc come to be because the established core values have been pushed aside instead of being seen as “non-negotiables”.
If organizations are guided or expected to be guided by their core values as explained above, what then guides or drives a leader? In the world of today, competence or learned skills might not stand a leader out in troubled situations. Not also enough to build a lasting relationship and enhance performances. This is because most leaders are building themselves up with the required skills and competency and as such require something more to stand them out and also guide their behaviours. What leaders need today that will guide or drive their behaviours is “personal values” synonymous to organization’s core values.
Some people might argue with this, but I have not seen a leader who has set of personal values and who also lives by them that have not turned out to be highly remarkable. I had a personal experience that reinforced to me the need not to compromise one’s personal values. On the 27th of June, 2015, I and two other speakers were billed to speak in the Ace Graduate School conference in Enugu. I have only known one of the speakers and did not know the third speaker. On that day, as soon as our 7am flight landed, I was “unnecessarily” in a hurry to get out from the airplane. In trying to get my bag from the baggage compartment, it slipped and tapped a passenger’s shoulder. Surprisingly, another passenger who was not affected by this incident retorted me: Why are you in a hurry to go? Why don’t you wait a bit for the line to clear up? First and foremost, the man who was affected by the incident had accepted my apology and was fine, so what is the business of this third party? Sincerely, it is not the other man’s business to get involved in something that did not concern or affect him. So when he said those things to me, two thoughts came into my mind. The first was “remember you teach people attitudinal change transformation”, and the second and most important was that “you cherish ‘relationship’ so much as one of your personal values. Immediately, I stopped what I was doing sat back in my sit, and said to him, “you were right”, I would have waited. He looked at me and smiled.
Here comes the shock of my life. Lo and behold, when we got out of the plane, the cab man who was to take me to the conference venue also warmly greeted the man who spoke to me on the plane. Do you know what? The man was the third speaker whom I did not know. Behold, we were inside the cab together going to the conference venue, and he said to me: you are a great man. That the way I behaved was exemplary. He said most people would have misconstrued him and end up giving him the insult of his life. Within me I asked myself a key question: what if I had quarreled with this man who I was going to share the podium with? I would have felt seriously bad and disappointed in myself. But more importantly, I would not have been be able to speak courageously and tell the audience my message of “how they can be the best”, when their facilitator could not even handle a minor situation on the plane. This is a big lesson for everyone.
When a leader is guided by his or her personal values, he would be able to surmount lots of challenges that would have gotten him/her or others into trouble. Same also for organizations, when they live by their core values growth and sustainability are accelerated. The only reason why I did not create an unwarranted scene on the plane (that would have backfired against me) was not because I was smart, or I had people management skills, but because I was more interested in fostering better relationships with people – driven by my personal values. As a leader or manager, do you have list of personal values that guide your behaviour and performance? If you do, do you see them as something you don’t have to cut corners with or settle for less? The world is looking for that leader who is driving results based on the right values, who sees his or her values as non-negotiables.
Everyday leaders, business owners and managers face situations that often times may lead them to compromise their personal values. When they are in that situation, some leaders compromise while others don’t. When personal values are compromised, our behaviours and directions are allowed to hang loose. We simply go to the direction of the wind and not where we ought to go. The truth is that compromising leaders would always end up having subordinates that will take after them. This explains why lots of organizations find it difficult to live up to their core values. When we compromise on our personal values it will be difficult to be guided by the organizational core values. Ultimately, the organization suffers.
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