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Leadership Thought #426 – What Do You Stand For?


What do you stand for? This is a question all leaders should able to answer fairly easily but most struggle with addressing.  I’ve been in many organizations where if you asked the question, “What does this business stand for?” you would get blank stares.  Values are the building blocks of any organization.  Without a common set of beliefs and principles, a company is like a ship without a rudder – adrift in a sea of individual interpretation and situational experience.  It has never been just about making money but how you make your money that matters the most.  And, the how involves many issues such as the way you treat your customers, employees, vendors, the environment, etc.

John Mellencamp has a great line in a song that goes, “You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything.”  Business, like life in general, is full of temptation.  It’s easy to get off track and do what’s easy or convenient at the time, especially when you are facing tough competition and/or mounting financial pressures.  Moreover, greed is an affliction that affects all of us to some degree.  We’ve all heard the saying that “if you want to learn who someone truly is, then give them money and power.” I would add that when people are in pursuit of these two objective they are even more prone to bad or questionable behavior.  There are no good moral shortcuts to success.

A leader’s job is to first and foremost to provide direction and foster an environment that leads to success.  You are constantly on stage and your people are watching your every move. They look to you to decipher what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Like it or not, they also looking to you to help provide some level of meaning to their lives.  We all tend to define ourselves (both positively and negatively) by the groups we associate with and where does the average person spend more time than at work?  As you grow, it becomes harder to simply lead by personal example.  You need to instill and codify core belief and principles throughout the organization to ensure everyone is on the same page in terms of the boundaries within which they are expected to operate.  This includes who you promote, reward, and publicly acknowledge.  Every organization needs a moral compass if it wants to say on the right path.

Sadly, many of us are disenchanted by the level private and public leadership we see these days.  Machiavellian tactics are alive and well.  We are exposed to daily examples of individual leaders putting their own personal aggrandizement above the good of the company, stakeholders, country and global community.  In this environment it is easy to become cynical and tempted to succumb to similar behavior ourselves.  Unless, of course, you stand for something more important…and live your life in accordance with these beliefs.

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  1. […] Leadership Thought #426 – What Do You Stand For? (edrobinson.wordpress.com) […]

  2. […] Leadership Thought #426 – What Do You Stand For? (edrobinson.wordpress.com) […]

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