Our core values are not varnish.
In my coaching practice, I help leaders align the goals for their careers and their organizations with their core values.
The world is full of leaders who are achieving some amount of material success but are miserable on the inside because what they are doing or the way they are doing it is not aligned with who they truly are – their beliefs, principles and the relationships they cherish most.
But there is also another temptation for high-integrity, values-driven leaders that can be equally prevalent and problematic: the temptation to treat our core values like varnish.
As high-integrity leaders our values are of paramount importance. We simply could not function without them. But that does not mean that our values compensate for shortcomings in other areas of leadership.
Too often, leaders, particularly in faith-based organizations, act as though their core values are a gloss, covering over a host of weaker leadership skills. People management is not a priority because we are spiritual people. Financial stewardship is not a necessity because we pray. Careful planning is not required because we live by faith.
Inevitably, organizations led according to this mindset fail. Barring the occasional miracle, a church cannot be built without someone who knows how to erect a wall. A ship cannot sail safely without someone who knows how to navigate the winds and waters.
Effective, high-integrity leadership requires alignment with our core values AND acquisition of essential leadership skills. We cannot manifest true leadership without both. In fact, mastery of the practical skills of leadership ENABLE us to effectively manifest our core values everyday in our work as leaders.
The high-integrity leader has awareness of her core values and aligns her work and work style to those values. But the high-integrity leader also see himself as he really is: a work in progress, with some practical skills for leadership well in hand and others in need of development. The high-integrity leader is constantly investing in the development of both their core values AND their practical skills.
As you move into 2020, ask yourself these questions:
How aligned is your work – what you do and how you do it – to your core values?