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Using the ‘Conscience Code’: Leading with Your Values at Work [Podcast]

As human rights activist and businesswoman Anita Roddick once said, “Being good is good business.” Today, many working people seem to foster that belief. Seventy-five percent of employees say they’d take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. And 64 percent say they won’t even take a job if an organization doesn’t have corporate responsibility practices.

Businesses that want to stay competitive and attract candidates have to realize that people have high expectations for organizations. Many people now champion the act of leading with your values and standing up for what you believe in. And if businesses aren’t willing to adjust their practices to be more ethical, many workers may have to stand up for what they believe in–put in their two weeks notice–then walk toward the door.

Our Guest: Business Ethics Thought Leader Richard Shell

On the #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Richard Shell, Chair of the Legal Studies and Business Ethics Department at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. His forthcoming book, The Conscience Code: Lead with Your Values, Advance Your Career, explains how people can lead with their core values at work. Richard has worked with public school teachers, labor unions, nurses, and hospital administrators to help them become more effective professionals. He has also taught students ranging from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 CEOs, Navy SEALs, FBI hostage negotiators, and United Nations peacekeepers.

Many believe that leading with your values requires a kind of heroic courage. Often, people draw up images of whistleblowers like Tyler Schultz, who helped bring to light that the health technology company Theranos ignored quality-control checks and doctored medical device research. From Richard’s perspective, however, the experience of leading with values at work can vary depending on circumstance.

“You really don’t have to be ‘courageous.’ You just have to be settled on what your values are,” Richard says. “Then you need to decide what’s negotiable and what’s not negotiable, and go from there.”

Once you’ve decided what’s important to you and are ready to start leading with your values, you can make a plan. Before blowing the whistle or simply running away from tough situations, you can look for ways to work with others without having your ethics challenged.

“Managing value conflicts to a successful outcome is possible. And that doesn’t always mean you blow whistles, and it doesn’t mean you go and confront people,” Richard says. “It means you think about the situation you’re in, the company you’re in, the network you have, and you strategically advance to a solution. I’m really trying to help people stand and fight instead of cut and run.”

Recognize Your Values, Then Find ‘The Power of Two’

If you can’t reach reconciliation, want to stand, fight, and begin leading with your values–what should you do to take action? According to Richard, you can harness “The Power of Two,” or rather, find a buddy who can support you.

“Social psychology research shows that alone, a person is very likely to yield to authority or cave into peers. But as soon as there is another person, a trusted partner who would speak the truth, that one person becomes empowered to speak the truth and push back,” Richard says.

From there, two people can become three, then four, then 40, and more. By using the strength of social networks, causes can get more support. Examples of this, Richard says, include Google employees walking out worldwide to protest sexual harassment.

“We need to give employees tools to effectively recognize the situations they’re in. And then help them save their souls so that they don’t live a life of remorse about these moments. They should have some pride in how they handle it,” Richard says. “Fortunately, now we’ve got the #MeToo Movement and other movements for social justice … Normally, in the past, people have just absorbed and internalized hurtful things. Now we’re like: ‘Wait a minute. We don’t have to put up with this.’” 

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more about leading with your values at work by connecting with Richard Shell on LinkedIn.

 

Values-Based Leadership And The Future World Of Work

The world has experienced many significant events in the last 200 
years and noticeably so in the last 25. From the fall of the Berlin wall and the advent of the Internet to 9/11 and the great recession, much has happened that has altered how we see things. As John Mackey states in his book Conscious Capitalism, “these factors have dramatically changed society and created a transformed landscape for business.” He goes on to say, “all of these changes and challenges offer great business opportunities, but they cannot be effectively addressed if we use the same mental models we have operated with in the past.” This being said, there is a substantial amount of evidence illuminating the fact that leaders and subsequently leadership and business may not be evolving with the changing world.

Recent data from global surveys indicates an alarmingly low rate of trust, loyalty, hope, and optimism about the future among workers. These feelings (along with other dimensions measured) about paid work continue to push the critical metric of associate engagement down to levels in the 23% to 30% range in 2013 assessments. At this rate, it is estimated that some $500 billion annually is being lost as a result of such factors as lower productivity and employee frustration. In 2013 alone some 19 million employees, or 13% of the US workforce is estimated to have left their jobs. John Mackey sums it up best in saying that “most companies are still doing business using mind-sets and practices that were appropriate for a very different world.” We believe it is time to change that.

At Luck Companies, we have been in the human business for 90 years extending back to 1923 when our founder Charles Luck Jr. started the company on the philosophy, “If you do right by your people, they will do right by you.” Today, his beliefs are manifested in our company’s value proposition of “Doing good – making a difference in the lives of our associates, is the best path to doing well – exceptional personal and business performance.” Day in and day out we focus not only on what we do, but also on how and why we do it with a culture that prioritizes enterprise- wide alignment to a set of timeless core values and a purpose beyond just making money. Our mission (or purpose), “We will ignite human potential through Values-Based Leadership and positively impact the lives of others around the world,” leverages the fact that all human beings are born with the extraordinary potential to live a life of meaning and contribution, and speaks to Values-Based Leadership as the activator of that potential. We define Values-Based Leadership (VBL) as, “living, working, and leading in alignment with your personal core values, principles, beliefs, and purpose to in turn ignite the extraordinary potential in those around you,” a philosophy and practice similar to other styles such as Authentic, Servant and Truly Human Leadership.

Today, five years into our mission, we have experienced first hand the power of Values-Based Leadership and its capacity. We have witnessed the exponential effect of an ignited or actualized human being and the impact that one life lived meaningfully well can have on so many others both inside and outside our company walls. We have traveled the world to share our work, ideology, and VBL model, and remain humbled by the ongoing feedback about the difference it has made in peoples’ lives globally. And while our mission is clearly the meaning we aspire to make, its manifestation in how and the resulting culture where associates can make a difference while making a living is what we are most proud of. An environment that we believe will serve us well in the future of work.

(About the Author: Having a passion for inspiring people to believe in themselves and become everything they are capable of becoming, Mark is charged with transforming Luck Companies into a global Values Based Leadership (VBL) organization. In his role as Chief Leadership Officer, he serves as a thought leader for the ongoing development of the VBL ideology and model, and is responsible for the integration of VBL within Luck Companies. Mark’s work also extends beyond Luck Companies’ doors and includes sharing the VBL model through mentoring, speaking, teaching, and consulting with organizations of all sizes, across all industries and all geographies.

valuesbasedleader.com 

Mark is an active member of the Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship and was recently selected as one of the 100 Top Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business 2014 by Trust Across America and Switch and Shift’s Top 75 Human Business Champions. His genuine interest in helping people flourish is fueled by his deeply held belief in the extraordinary potential of all human beings and peoples’ ability to experience an exceptional quality of life once their potential is actualized.)

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Want To Build A Business? Lead With Trust

If you could define business success, what would it look like to you? Would you focus on market share? Growth rate? Revenue? Profitability? Or something else?

At young companies, conversations tend to revolve around how to raise seed funding, where to invest capital, and how to compensate key contributors. Often, it seems that our perception of business success (or failure) largely revolves around money.

While it is true that a well-run company requires appropriate funding and sound financial management, I would argue that there is something even more vital to the sustained growth of any venture. It’s not something you can buy or sell — nor does it come prepackaged on a shelf.

I’m talking about trust.

Broken Trust: Good Examples Of Bad Behavior

From the Enron debacle to the Madoff scandal, stories of insider trading and fraud have captured headlines far too frequently. Our nation is losing faith in corporate leaders, and there’s a growing demand for corporate accountability and transparency.

The only way to turn this around is for those at the top to take responsibility and lead by example. We must create open, transparent cultures that promote accountability, integrity and honesty.

The truth of the matter is that employees need to know what’s going on in order to feel connected with their work and perform at their highest level. Staff concerns about the stability and the health of the company are a distraction that can erode trust, inhibit productivity and have a negative impact on the bottom line.

Creating an environment of trust goes far beyond releasing quarterly reports. It requires a daily commitment to transparency that’s infused into all aspects of business operations, and reaches all levels of the organizational chart. Most importantly, it requires team coaching and open communication across all functions, with management that listens and responds to constructive criticism.

Trust Is The Cornerstone Of Culture

Leadership legend, Stephen M. R. Covey said:

“High trust is a dividend; when it goes up you’ll find that everything happens faster and cost goes down. It’s that predictable.”

Although trust can take a long time to build, once we have achieved a state of trust, we often take it for granted. But the fact of the matter is that trust is at the core of the daily work activities that collectively make up company culture. As Deborah Mills-Scofield explains in the Harvard Business Review:

“Trust trumps everything. And everything flows from trust — learning, credibility, accountability, a sense of purpose and a mission that makes ‘work’ bigger than oneself.”

When it comes to trust, the whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. For example, many startups have created cultures based around staff perks like a ‘no vacation policy’ vacation policy, providing employees with top-of-the line equipment, offering flexible hours, and letting staff work from home. While benefits like these may attract and retain top talent, there’s also a higher mission. Companies that offer these unique self-directed work options are sending employees a message that says, ‘I trust you, and I trust your judgment in using these privileges.”

Earlier this year, HubSpot released its long-awaited Culture Code – a presentation that summarizes the organization’s nine core beliefs. The document is remarkable because it emphasizes that trust is at the center of Hubspot’s organization. Rather than creating binders full of company policies, HubSpot has created a simple three-word policy for nearly everything: use. good. judgment. From social media activity, to travel expenses, to sick days, HubSpot understands that a healthy company starts with trust.

The Trust/Time Ratio

Of course, trust is a two-way street. Not only is it essential for employees to trust management, but leaders must trust their teams, and feel confident in their ability to move the company forward.

As Stephen M.R. Covey explains in his book, The Speed of Trust, trust is the great liberator of time and resources. It’s also an essential condition for growth. He notes that “when trust goes up, speed will also go up and cost will go down,” and that “when trust goes down, speed will go down and costs will go up.” Therefore, he concludes that the speed at which you can grow a business is directly proportionate to the time that you invest in creating trusting relationships.

Leading By Letting Go

One of the most important lessons I learned as a CEO was the importance of trusting your team. As the leader of any organization, large or small, your primary job is to communicate the vision; give your people the information, tools and resources to move toward it; and then get out of the way. This frees your staff to be as productive as possible, while allowing you to focus on your responsibility to drive the company forward, strategically.

The truth is plain and simple: if you’re a leader who wants to grow a company, you must have faith in your staff to get the job done – without you hovering around their desks. It is impossible to innovate while being bogged down in the daily minutia of your company. Trust allows you to remove yourself from the details and create necessary space to focus on long-term growth.

Trust is a natural human instinct, yet we tend to over-complicate it when we try to apply it to the business world. The best way to create a culture of trust is to begin by being open and honest with ourselves and those around us. By committing to being transparent in all our interactions, we will gradually create a culture of trust around us. And as trust grows, we should expect to see business results follow.

How do create and sustain trust within your organization? What results do you see?

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome. Learn more...)

Image Credit: Pixabay