What’s Your Company’s Attitude?

Our attitudes are the demonstration of what we each think it means to be an employee, to be a leader, to be a parent and to be a citizen in today’s societies. Our attitudes change with each new generation as well as within generations as we mature. Therefore, we often differ on how these roles should be played out.

The result…when someone acts differently than we think they should, we call it “having an attitude.”

Funny thing, we are all “having an attitude” all of the time since an attitude is a projection of what we think is right and wrong in a situation. So what forms the attitude in the first place? VALUES. What we come to value most in life shapes how we see ourselves and the attitudes we project.

Of course, every individual has a personal set of values based on their past experiences. On that same note, every company has a set of values based on the past experiences and the current focus of its leaders. These are not always the values written on the posters. They are the values expressed in the way business is conducted, in how employees treat each other, and in how leaders feel about the people who work for them.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Therefore, every business “has an attitude.” If values make up “attitude,” what type of attitude would you say your business has? How is business conducted, how do people treat each other, and how do leaders show they care about their employees, really? A “doing whatever it takes to succeed” attitude may be lacking in both customer and employee trust.

Integrity, authenticity and transparency are the new words I see on the values charts. Yet if you ask any employee in the hallway what are the company values, if they don’t know them by heart and can’t recite them with pride, then something is missing.

WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY’S ATTITUDE? It will be increasingly important to run a business by real values. From hiring, to retention, to creativity and finally, to getting results, employees will demand that their companies have an attitude in line with their own. Maybe the employees should write the values.

Joey Reiman wrote an article titled “The Values Revolution” in Pink Magazine, November 2008. Reiman says there are three types of company values, Compliant, Committed and Influential.

Compliant values use words such as “quality,” “diversity,” and “teamwork.” These sound more like legal requirements and do little to inspire.  They are boilerplate values that carry a paternal attitude, hoping the masses will comply.

Committed values use words such as creativity, passion and innovation. They reflect an interest in the people who work in the company. If leaders actually make decisions based on these values and demonstrate optimistic and respectful attitudes, they will create great working environments.

Influential values demonstrate the values of community and the common good. These values show that the company has a mission to alter the way we live and work, helping to improve the planet beyond just the company’s walls. When every employee has these values, they have a better chance to rise above pettiness and give their hearts to the bottom line. These companies have a humane and responsible attitude driven by contribution. Thankfully these companies are showing up more and more each day.

Brain Tip: Since your behavior is a clear indicator of your true values, what would you say you most value today? Instead of doing a values inventory, track what you do in a typical day at work. Then see what you can honestly claim as your values. When you know your true values, you will better understand what attitudes you reflect in your decisions and behavior.

Brain Tip: The book, The Leadership Pipeline, says leadership development must focus on values. If you don’t have a value for getting work done through others, for trusting them to give their best, and for believing that the success of the unit should be held higher than any one’s personal success, then you will never be a great leader of an organization or team. Would you say the leaders you know demonstrate these values? According to Brain Tip subscriber Bill Lazure, not everyone wants to lead. Yet often leaders take on this role to meet more self-centered values.

If you were to design a leadership model based on values, what behaviors and attitudes would the leaders demonstrate? Can you coach and inspire leaders to take on these values or must you hire/promote with the values intact? There is no concrete easy answer to this. However, in my coaching, I have seen attitudes shift when committed and influential values are unleashed.

Brain Tip: Share this newsletter with the people who wrote your company’s values. In this day when companies are looking to inspire their employees to be champions and to ignite the innovation that will be the torch of success for the future, every company and their leaders should reassess their mission and values, then make sure their behavior is in alignment with their words.

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