Don’t shove down your values into other people’s throat

I’ve spoken, written, and debated about the importance of values and how different it is from principles at length. So, I’m not going to get into it right now. But there’s one observation that’s worth talk about because I see it quite often — managers and leaders enforcing their values on to their team members.

Let me explain — have you ever worked for a manager or a leader who’s stingy with his own money and happens to have control over the team’s budget? Or perhaps, you’ve worked with someone who’s reckless with his own finances and doesn’t give a hoot about the company’s finances either? I know, both are extreme examples but they aren’t all that uncommon. And my pet peeve isn’t just about leaders being a little too careful or careless about money but the whole thought process behind shoving down one’s values to other people’s throat. It’s unnecessary and quite idiotic to be honest.

Of course, I’m not suggesting a leader should be a running a ship without values. That’s not the point. What I’m trying to emphasize is that a leader’s personal values are secondary to the organizational values. The latter matters the most when it comes to take decisions and thinking from the team’s perspective. So, if you’re a miser, great! That’s your value, not your teams. If your company values frugality, be frugal, not a miser. There’s a difference.

The most effective leaders I’ve worked with understand that their personal values played an important role in helping them become who they are but that’s not a typical outcome to expect. Simply because people are different from each other. Even when they share the same personal values! So, they focus on finding the common ground between their personal values, their people’s values, and the organizational values and work from there.

That’s some work cut out for you, the leader, but whoever thought this leadership thing was easy must have been a moron. It never is and never will be.

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