Most organizations have core values. Somewhere anyway. They’re usually posted on the website and probably printed on a brochure somewhere. But do people talk about them individually? Does anyone know them? Are they specific and meaningful enough to make a difference?

At the end of the day, the organization is going to do what it’s going to do, right? So maybe a better question is: why do we even have core values?

We’ve probably all come across sets of core values that were easy to make fun of or were too vague to impact anyone. But well constructed, specific core values can add tremendous benefit both to organizations and individuals. In fact, here are three ways I’ve seen this happen.

Core Values Word Cloud

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Truth: Leadership is about influence, not position.

Authority Influence

Leadership is about one thing and one thing only: influence. Leaders use the influence they have to create positive change. The more positive change, the more influence.

Go into any corporate boardroom, military garrison or government building and you’re bound to find someone who has a title and a position, but lacks the influence he or she needs to get the job done. Even though they’re in charge, their followers resist them at every turn. The ones who stick around, that is. People follow them when they have to… but that’s it.

On the other hand, go to the front lines of any war, the kitchen of any restaurant or the teachers’ lounge at any school, and you’re bound to find someone who truly leads, regardless of where he or she falls on the totem pole. All you have to do is ask, “who is the real leader around here? Who has the influence to get the job done?” You’re sure to get an answer.

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Several years ago I needed to perform a complicated banking transaction on a certain day but wasn’t going to be able to arrive during lobby hours. Having worked as a bank teller back in the day, I knew it would probably prove an impossible request. But to my surprise the bank informed me it would be no problem and they would have an envelope waiting for me in the drive-through.

Another time I was responsible for opening up a restaurant in the morning. When I turned on the lights, I couldn’t believe how shiny everything looked. The place was cleaner than I had ever seen it before. I had to ask around to see who had gone above and beyond.

Yet another time, I needed some repairs done to my car but was on a tight schedule. The mechanic drove me home after I dropped off my car, then called to update me, took my payment over the phone and left my car where I could pick it up at my leisure when my schedule allowed.

Most people are used to getting caught – but it’s usually for doing something wrong. In fact, we’ve become so used to low standards and poor customer experiences that we often expect it. But in each of these cases I shared, the culprit hadn’t done anything wrong, they had done something above and beyond.

What do you do when that happens?

Fishing

Let me answer that question for you. You catch people doing something right. Here’s why it’s so important.

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Where do you send your employees to learn something new? Where do you go yourself?

There a lots of options out there. The best strategy is to take a integrated approach to learning across five broad categories. Here they are.Employee Class Excited

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When was the last time your face was the unfamiliar one? You may have gotten a new job or joined a new team. Maybe you moved to a new area, joined a new network or gave a presentation to a new group.

How did it go?

If you had anything to say, share or contribute, chances are at some point you found yourself wondering, “how can I make myself credible to these people?”

The interesting thing about credibility is that it can never been attained for oneself. It can only be conveyed by others. You can only ever be as credible and others decide you are.

So what can you and I do? Quite a bit, actually. Here’s a sample of the ways I’ve noticed people gain credibility with others.

Trust Me

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I took a college class one semester from a guest instructor who had recently been the president of a large and influential organization. His presidency had lasted over twenty years and he had overseen numerous high-profile change initiatives. I enjoyed the class immensely and was really challenged in my leadership thinking. I even remember staying after class to share some theories I was working on and get his input.

So when I called up a friend who had been associated with the organization this man had led, I couldn’t have been more shocked at what he told me.

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Adversity is no respecter of persons. Our experiences are usually different, but each of us gets our turn. Our organizations do too, for that matter.

So what happens when adversity strikes? How can we climb our way our of it? This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are some thinking patterns that have helped me maintain a sense of sanity and clarity over the years.

Springs

 

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Have you ever taken a personality assessment? What were your results? Were you an INFP? A “high D and low I?” A fire with a bit of earth mixed in? An eagle or an otter?

If you spend much time on social networks, you’ve probably even seen personality quizzes that blend with pop culture. Which Lord of the Rings character are you? Or Disney character. Or past U.S. president. Personality assessments are definitely trending right now.

Hate Assessments

Now before you get the idea I’m about to start hating on personality assessments altogether, I should mention first off that I’ve taken several myself and helped administer them in professional settings as well. Some of the assessments I’ve worked with are Myers-Briggs (probably the most popular), DiSC (my favorite), and FIRO Business and I’m familiar with several others. I’ve also worked with strengths assessments and 360 degree assessments.

Clearly, there are many benefits to personality assessments, so let’s start there.

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Top 10 Posts from 2013

December 30, 2013 — 3 Comments

It’s been another great year for the Everyday Leadership site. Visitors stopped by from nearly every country. 2013 featured a Leadership Profiles series and Powerful Questions series in addition to everyday leadership content. There’s a lot more to come in 2014 on a mostly bi-monthly schedule. Thanks for making it such a great year!

Here are the top 10 posts from 2013.

Top 10c

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My favorite time to catch up on my reading is during long road trips with audiobooks. The second is holidays and vacations. The time away from work helps me sharpen the saw by considering new ideas I might not encounter during my regular routine.

As the Christmas holiday season arrives, I’d like to share a few book recommendations in case you find some down time and want to expand your leadership thinking.

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This year has just about come to a close. The Type As among us are probably wrapping up their goals and planning for the new year (if they aren’t finished already). The rest will catch up. Maybe.

I saw a great post from Mark Miller last week on New Year’s resolutions for leaders – and it really challenged my thinking. I’m not sure what your leadership goals are for the new year, but if you haven’t thought about it, I’d suggest picking something from these ideas below.

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Wanted: Optimists!

December 9, 2013 — 2 Comments

Is the glass half empty or half full?

You’ve undoubtedly been asked this rhetorical question before. Apparently how you answer is supposed to quickly reveal whether you are an optimist or a pessimist – and perhaps a lot more about your inner worldview.

I’m not sure what the “right” answer to the the glass question is – although I always think it should somehow depend on what’s in the glass to begin with. But when it comes to being an optimist, I’m am sure of this: optimists are in high demand.

Here’s why.

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