Although you've heard the expression "Leading by Example", what about "Leading with Values?"
My values have always been my guide and I've always lead by example. It wasn't until I started my first company did I realize how important it was to embed those values in the company.
These are the four I values that guide my actions and those of my colleagues every day. They are integrity, people, impact, innovation, and honesty. These values are more than words written on the wall at our headquarters or on mousepads for remote workers. They are what everyone in our company lives and breathes. These four values have been a constant guide for me, my family, and our leaders over the past two years.
Organizations should not revert to old ways when planning their return to work (NOT the return to work because we have never stopped working). Let's take a moment and redesign something that will set everyone up for success with values as our compass. This approach will help people thrive at work, I believe.
According to my experience, leading with values is the best way to lead. There are three methods to achieve this goal.
Reject the old-fashioned mentality of workplace hierarchy
The top sets the tone for the company's culture. Your employees must believe in the practices you ask them to adopt. This will create the culture you want for your company.
You may have encountered a company that treats lower-level employees less with respect at some point in your career, either right out of school or sometime in the middle.
They eventually climb up to management-level positions and continue the cycle of demeaning the younger employees, which erodes any sense of a healthy culture.
This is not the right way.
If you want your workplace to reflect inclusivity, support and collaboration, as a leader, you need to set the example. It is important to remove the hierarchies that come with work titles and make it clear that your company values contributions based on merit, regardless if they are in a leadership position. Your mission is shared by all members of your team. This level of organization ensures everyone is equal and that no one can treat anyone poorly.
Do not get trapped in the ivory tower mentality
I shared an office with my colleagues early in my career. These office spaces were not designed to be cool or beautiful. They had no view and the furniture was not up to the mark. My current office has been described by someone, even as the CEO. It gets the job done.
These simple signals send a powerful message and must be consistent. Rent a car, not a limousine. Fly coach, not first class. These are minor points, but CEOs can fall prey to an ivory tower mentality that causes employees to lose touch with their managers.
Take the time to get to know your people. You can implement a walking around management strategy. Get out there and meet people. Ask them about their day by dropping by their desks. Take a break in the breakroom for lunch. Make an effort to assist new hires.
Are you not physically in the office? You can also join Zoom meetings and Slack channels. Zoom bombed a baby Shower for one of our crew members to hear all their well wishes. It made my day, and everyone else's. Be present in your work place and be human. It pays off.
Workplace practices should be consistent and thoughtful.
The top sets the tone for the company's culture. Your employees must believe in the policies and practices you ask them to adopt. This will create the culture you want for your company. You will not create a strong culture if your employees don't give 100% of their effort to these initiatives and practices.
One example is the Free2Focus campaign, which we launched last year. It asks SailPoint staff to not book meetings during Free2Focus. This not only addresses Zoom fatigue but also allows our crew to take a break and let their minds wander, whether it's walking, helping their children with school, or simply turning off the camera.
This is how I have found it helps my team show grace throughout the week. This means that I won't set up meetings on Free2Focus, don't send emails at all hours of day or night, and don't judge people who need breaks. My team can do the job on their own and their own terms. Your employees will perform better as a result.
A CEO is about more than just building on a vision, product, or idea. It's about leading people with values and achieving mutual goals that don't devalue their dignity or morale. It is easy to get distracted by the responsibilities of a job. But if you don't put the effort into integrating yourself and your values in the company, you will end up being too big for you and your company.
Although it won't happen overnight, remember that the smallest things often have the greatest impact. Lead by example if you are a leader. This is the only way to create teams that will stand the test of the years.