Behaviors Demonstrate Your True Vision

March 26, 1999
Part of a leader's role is to provide a vision for the organization: a set of long-range objectives and a set of values that indicate how these objectives are to be achieved. But the true values of the organization are determined much more by the actual behaviors the leader demonstrates.

Early in my career, during my days as a software engineer, I had the opportunity to work for an organization that was relatively small but involved in some very exciting development efforts.

One of the things I liked most about the organization was its focus on people. During my initial interview with the company, the director explained that in his group work was just one component of life, not the only one. He talked with pride about how the small size of the organization made for a very close-knit community. This sounded wonderful!

Several weeks after I joined the group, though, I began to see another side of the organization and the director. The project we were working on was more complex than had been expected. We were all happy to put in the extra effort needed to make it successful. But this began turning into 70- and 80-hour workweeks. We asked the director about adding some people, but because of budget constraints he said there was no funding to hire any additional help.

This pattern continued for several months and got to the point where it was affecting the group both mentally and physically. A group of us met with the director and explained that several people were beginning to seriously burn out. His response? "It's okay to burn out engineers." Yes, he actually said that to a room full of engineers! So much for his people-oriented values.

Remember that your behaviors, as perceived by the people you work with, communicate your true values more than any newsletter or presentation that you make during a staff meeting. Make sure that your behaviors are consistent with the values you want to instill in your group.

SOURCE: © 1998 QualityTalk. All Rights Reserved. Ron Rosenberg, President, QualityTalk, 800/260-0662, ,January 1999.