Leaders, What Do You Really Care About?

The issue I’ve had for a long time with self-described, self-development experts is that they attach more significance to achieving success than to an individual’s definition of success, which to me is much more important. If you can’t determine how an individual see’s success through the lens with which they view the world, it’s really hard to set (much less achieve) the necessary goals or objectives, based upon the individual’s mindset. This is why I’ve really invested much of my time and energy in focusing on Leadership Development based upon assessing an individual’s character and behavior. If I can get at the core of what embodies an individual’s core values and determines their mindset, then I can also get at the core of habitual defaults that arise during times of not only stress and crisis, but comfort, as well. If you’re asking why I’d want to know what you default to during times when everything is comfortable or peachy, it’s during those times that we’re all susceptible to becoming complacent. I was taught a long time ago by my mentor (Sam Walton), that complacency is the enemy of achieving just about anything. In my view, you can’t talk about self-improvement without also talking about values. It’s not enough to simply grow and become a better person. You have to define what that better you is. You have to determine in which direction you want to grow. It’s even more important to do so for Leaders. Why? Because they have many followers under their influence that look to them every day for the way. What if that way is the wrong way? In short, it’s one thing to focus on being happy and feeling good, but if your values are misguided, then the feeling good part may hurt more than it helps. Every moment of every day, whether we realize it or not, we’re making decisions about how to spend our time, what to pay attention to, where to direct our energy, where to spend our money, or who we spend our time with. There are an infinite number of things we could be doing. Right now, I’m choosing to write this Blog Post and if you’re reading it, you’re choosing to do so. Maybe in a minute or less, someone will text you and you’ll stop reading because you just can’t stand not looking at and answering the text. When that happens, you’re making a simple, value-based decision that your phone is of more importance than reading this Post. Your behavior in that moment follows your value set. Our values are constantly reflected in the way we choose to behave. We all have a few things that we think and say we value, but we never back them up with our behaviors or actions. I can tell others all day that I value diversity and inclusion, but if my behaviors and actions don’t reflect that value, then I’m providing a false narrative that does nothing but erode my credibility, especially as a Leader. In fact, many of us state values we wish we had as a way to cover up values we actually do have. Instead of facing who we really are, we lose ourselves in who we think someone else wants us to be. If you want to know the clinical term for that, it’s called the Impostor Syndrome. I’ve noted before in one of my Podcasts that I was plagued by this feeling for most of my earlier career. Put another way, we lie to ourselves because we don’t like some of our own values, so therefore, we don’t like a part of ourselves. It’s this discrepancy between self-perception and reality that usually gets us into all sorts of trouble. I know it did for me as I was a people-pleaser to my own demise on more occasions than I could relate in this post. It took me a while to learn that there’s a time to please and then there’s a time to say enough is enough. Our values are extensions of ourselves. They are what define us. When we’re disconnected and in a state of values-conflict, then we cease to gain traction and most things we attempt just don’t seem to take hold. Leading others is difficult enough for even the best of Leaders if they haven’t identified their own personal set of core values. Truth Be Told, if you don’t stand for something of value that’s beyond just the material or beyond yourself, then you’ll stand for just about anything.

Published by The Leadership Consortium

Maxie Carpenter was formerly Vice President of HR & Talent Development for Wal-Mart Stores. After a 27-year career, he began to pursue a number of other interests, which included alternative education, nonprofits, consulting, writing and public speaking.

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