Friday, November 9, 2012

Leadership and Values - What Pressure Reveals

I recently had the heartbreaking task of walking away from a client.

The client has staggering potential in their market space.

They have a team of people whom I believe have the talent to get the company to where it needs to go.

Success is theirs for the taking.

So why did I walk away from them?

Because my passion for their success and my belief in their success potential exceeded theirs and it felt like I was dragging them begrudgingly across the finish line instead of collaborating with them and being delighted in watching them sprint across the finish line as they basked in the glory of victory.

And this violated one of my values, that of the power of collaboration built upon highlighting and harvesting the talents, strengths and skills of everyone involved coupled with an uncompromising passion for success built upon respect, transparency, honesty and intelligent action.

Some of them didn’t want success for themselves as much as I wanted for them.

And it was their company, not mine.

It was their dream.

Not mine.

The words were there – the actions were not. 

As I reflected on how the relationship evolved, it got me to thinking about values.

Values are an interesting thing.  It has been said that when we face pressure in our Life, the event doesn’t define us as much as it reveals who we really are.

And that’s when we realize how strong (or not) our values are.

When Life squeezes us, we can:

1. Abandon our values because others tell us to

2. Compromise our values in an effort to make others happy

3. Adhere to our values, knowing that it may make some people unhappy but we will have been true to ourselves and set an example for others to follow.

I stuck to my values in this case, knowing that it would upset people.

But it is better than living with compromised values (or none at all), which is what many people do.

What many people don’t realize is that when we abandon or compromise our values, we are dooming ourselves and others to failure and possibly greater pain down the road.

We just don’t know it yet.

And so we go through Life, avoiding pain by being what others expect us to be instead of being who we are truly are.

When that happens, we aren’t offering anyone any added value because we are not bringing our unique combination of values and insight to the table.

We are merely bringing to the table the insight and values that the other person has already embraced.

We are in fact, just like them!

Where’s the value in that?

Do you know what your values are?

Do you really stand by them – uncompromisingly but with respect?

Do your actions speak louder than words when it comes to expressing your values?

Do you stand by them when it is most difficult to do so?

Or do you allow yourself to blow in the breeze, your values being transient and indiscernible, bending to the will of people who would seek to alter your values to suit their wants or needs.

Do you stand by your values and principles, fighting for what you believe to be right or do you waste your energy fighting everything / everyone else?

Strength of our values determines the quality of our Life

When we are inevitably faced with difficulty in Life, we will discover that there is a big difference between being told we are defeated and believing it.

How we demonstrate our understanding of this will depend largely on how much we stand by our values.

But I guess that depends on whether we know what our values are and whether we have the courage to stand by them with conviction and respect.

Or if we allow them to be defined by someone else.

Do you know what values are most important to you?

Do you demonstrate your values effectively, uncompromisingly and with respect?

How do you know?

In service and servanthood,



  1. Walking away from an income-generating situation is always a dilemma, especially in a down economy where a replacement opportunity may not be quickly forthcoming. But the price of ignoring your values - and the example you have been providing (whether or not anyone notices at the time) is far higher. In the long run, the pain of leaving an untenable situation is far less than leaving parts of yourself by the wayside. When you leave with values intact (or, more likely, strengthened by the crucible), you provide the world with one more model for others to follow.

  2. Thank you for your kind words, Janice.

    I fear that the number of people sticking to their values is declining, which lead inevitably to a "correction".

    When it comes to such evolution, nature is self correcting and forces us to recognize that when things need to be set right, we can correct it or be corrected.

    The former is under our control and gives some sense of control over our destiny.

    The latter occurs against our will, is often more painful and establishes a future that we may or may not have any influence over.

    If more people realized that their choices inevitably lead to one of the two options, I would like to think they would be more cognizant of their actions as a result!

    But that is the world of the uber optimist. :-)

    Create a great day!