Turn yourself inside out: values-based leadership beats incentives
Much of our lives are governed by the drive to attain credentials. We measure our kids by their grades, success at sports and SAT scores. We measure ourselves by an endless stream of degrees, titles, certifications and awards all of which are beautifully presented on our LinkedIn profiles.
Is that how you value yourself? C’mon… really?
Life isn’t about how we’re graded; it’s about who we are. And, who we are is very complicated. While our analytical mind expresses logic and reason, our emotions assign value and are the basis for reason. We progress as individuals when reason incites passion.
So, if you’re a business leader, you have to ask yourself, “Why am I passionate about this? What attracts me to leadership roles?”
A study recently published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Wow! What a mouthful!) concludes that leaders who are motivated by their values outperform those who are motivated by external factors, like shareholder value or personal compensation.
In my new book, our hero is reminded by his mentor that:
“You should let your values influence your behavior, your choices and your emotions. Your values give you purpose for getting up in the morning.”
Our values are personal. They don’t evolve from your bonus plan or stock options.
Corporate disasters like Enron, Tyco, Lehman Brothers and Worldcom were all characterized by an overreliance on financial incentives to motivate performance. It seems clear that one doesn’t necessarily follow a moral and ethical course to get that bonus or earn those stock options.
How might things have turned out if the leaders of those corporations focused on a culture based on integrity?