The Conscious Business
VALUE SYSTEMS IN LEADERS AND EMPLOYEES
Last month we looked at the process of creating the emotional exchange with customers that bind that customer to your business through a glue of emotional loyalty.
One key aspect of creating a strong positive emotional resonance with customers is the internalisation of a strong value system which espouses a strong ethical code of conduct. Notice that I chose the word “internalisation”. This was no accident and let me explain why this is the key to how a value system and a code of ethics can make or break your customer relationships, and therefore business success.
This is why companies need to operate from a set of values and ethics that underpin the way in which company and employee behaviour is conducted. When a person is able to act and engage from a value-driven place within themselves then what others notice is consistency, which in turn fosters and promotes trust.
In organisations you get workers and leaders who have possibly 2 sets of values. Firstly they may have their own set of values which have formed over time from their life experiences, their parental and caretaker influences, mirroring and modelling of their own values to that person, as well as cultural and religious values and shaping influences.
Personal values can be powerful drivers and mobilise a person’s actions toward intentions, behaviours and actions that align to the expression of that value set. For instance in the unfolding riots in London we see a form of anarchy where a potentially class of valueless people act out of a narcissistic and rage fuelled sense of entitlement towards others.
The “herd mentality” of the primitive limbic or emotional brain can quickly permit a person without values to act from instinct and impulse in positive or negative ways. However this group at one point then encountered another group of organised Muslims who as part of their religious value system have ingrained in them the social and community ethos that moderate Muslim belief espouses.
This group organised to protect each other, their families and their businesses. Their “herd mentality” was not tied to self interest but to the wider interest, safety and empathy of the “herd” or community. We can say that their religious value system informed their decisions to act in a co-ordinated way that served a higher rather than a self purpose.
Likewise some individuals possess a personal value system which is informed and created from various influences and backgrounds, but has a protective “herd” effect when activated. If one considers that not all people in London acted from a mind of anarchy, anger, recklessness and perceived revenge, then perhaps their values served to constrain their lower or base impulses that would see a rational person become outrageous and animalistic.
There was a separate group of Londoners, each from unrelated and a wide set of backgrounds, whose value system saw them enraged at the actions of the vandals and looters. They organised a “herd” from a place of otherwise separate value systems but in the common good of their community and actioned a spontaneous cleanup that did not wait for or gain council or legal sanction.
All these different reactions from groupings of people within the community illustrate the importance of an internalised value system for constraining self-interest, and promoting a wider good. This is critical for businesses and organisations who need to grasp the notion that the best people to recruit are those with a solid personal value system. The reason is that once a person has undergone a personal internalisation of values in their life, and has lived to those values and seen the value of the discipline of living a value-driven life, they are typically amenable to accepting and adopting a business or organisational value system as a leader or employee.
I have seen too many businesses and organisations create vision and mission statements, complete with the company values, which were cynical corporate governance tick-offs to appease “best practice” methodologies. No-one took them seriously and the leaders did not embody these values, and therefore mirror and model them to their employees. The resulting unconscious and practiced set of values were often narcissistic, two-faced or even morally and legally compromised.
A business that employs a person with a good set of personal values will often find a person whose personal value system is aligned or congruent to the organisational value system. Such a person is already “walking the talk” of the company in this way and just needs education and exposure to the company ethos to refine the value-driven behaviours and attitudes.
Where a personal has a value system that is at odds with the company value system then they may not be a suitable employee. It’s not that they are a bad person but instead they are not a fit for your company. An employee with such a mismatch may find themselves with an ethical dilemma, or unable to fully represent the face of the business in the way intended. This represents risk to the company and is best avoided.
Where an alignment exists between the personal and the company value and belief systems then there is a good chance that they will make that customer experience an authentic and emotionally positive for those members of the public they encounter as customers. There is no internal dissonance or resistance and they can identify with the company they work for and be passionate advocates of that brand or product or experience.
As an example think of the Greenpeace person you sometimes meet in the street who is often fundraising or looking to signup members of the public to newsletters, or to support a signature campaign. These persons are typically passionate, approach you with confidence and a belief in what they do.
They often get waved away or ignored or even abused, but they are not deterred. They soldier on and authentically represent the organisation, their beliefs and values without putting on a social mask or acting insincerely. Imagine if you could make your workforce perform with the same passion!!
The key point is to train or recruit your leadership and workforce to be value-driven. If you start with a person who already has internalised a set of values then you can work with that mechanism. If you employ a person without an internal frame of reference that is a set of values you may end up with an employee who makes the news at 6pm inasmuch as they are prone to impulsive gestures, actions and behaviours, and who can be easily influenced by others.
They are in some respect your opportunistic looters and vandals you saw in London. What I mean is they are not constrained or guided by a moral base or a set of values that inform them, given them meaning and purpose in life beyond acting on their own selfish natures, without reflecting or empathy towards others. Such staff typically offer no emotional connectivity or ability to positively resonate with customers as they are normally ego-centric, selfish persons who lack emotional intelligence.
Unfortunately the Generation X and Y age groups are over-represented in this increasing problem of valueless lifestyles and linked behaviours. If you look closely at the video footage of the London riots you will see young children then teenagers and predominately Generation X and Y people engaging in the destructive vandalism, theft and wanton destruction. They must be empty inside or put another way to be devoid of a social conscience to act “with the herd”.
Likewise employers are now increasingly finding it hard to find suitable employees for their businesses and organisations from the Generation X and Y groups. A distinct narcissistic stance towards the employer, and towards life is often noted. The stance can be basically summed up as “It’s all about me and not all about we”.
The breakdown in the family and in traditional societal institutions which were responsible for the creating and reinforcing of values and beliefs in children, such as religion and the church, can be seen to have been a major contributor to the emptiness of these modern generations. Workplaces now face the challenge of finding those workers who still have a personal value system intact, or instilling one in the employees they recruit, or both.
Next newsletter we shall explore these themes further and look at how to utilise values in the customer experience.
If your business could do with some value creation and setting, emotional intelligence training or coaching then contact us and lets discuss how we can assist you in your conscious business evolution.
Have a safe and productive month!!
Director, Conscious Business Australia