June 20

Our So-Called Values Part 1 – Why they fail us and what to do about it


Your values are your beliefs, defined by how you consistently live them. They are inherently neither good nor bad, just genuine. For example, your values might center around greed, money and power. If so, my message is of no use to you. I am focusing on the kinds of values that will help you be sustainably successful – like: integrity, respect, and authenticity.

The impact your values have on your business and your leadership is pervasive. It’s incalculable. The values you choose to live define you – visibly and subconsciously – whether you know it or not and whether you believe it or not. Harnessing the power of values is fundamental to the quality of your leadership and the sustainability of your success.

How Our Values Are Tested:

Adversity, the crisis of the moment, short-term needs that conflict with your vision and your long-term objectives test the validity of what you say are your values – those lofty words on wall plaques – intended to define you, but too often turned into the basis of public anger  when a few people clearly march to a different drum beat. When that happens, oftentimes some bad PR makes people wonder whether you are apologizing for your behavior or for getting caught.

Five Reasons We Fail:

Here are the primary reasons why our (supposed) values fail us. Actually, my title has it backward. Our values don’t fail us – we fail them. What makes us believe that we have certain core values and that we faithfully live them – except when we don’t?

  1. We don’t hold people (including ourselves) measurably accountable for living them – and there are no consequences for not living them, even when everyone sees that our failure has caused significant consequences.
  2. We live our values situationally. We choose when they apply and when they don’t. When we do that, those proclaimed beliefs are no longer our values – they are our strategies.
  3. We apply our values selectively. Some people are held accountable; some are not. When that happens, we become hypocrites in the eyes of others. The price for hypocrisy is the loss of trust. Do you trust hypocrites?
  4. There is a lack of constant awareness on the part of too many people as to what our values are, what they mean and how they must permeate everyone’s behavior all the time, in every interaction, under all circumstances.
  5. We live them conditionally – I will honor my values ONLY if you treat me that way in return. When that occurs, what happens is that other people control our conduct – we are actually living THEIR values, not our own.
What you can do:

If you haven’t already done so, put your intended values in writing. Define them as you interpret how you want to live them. Then, begin conversations with your people at all levels. Ask them if they think that those are the values you actually live every day. And ask them if they believe that everyone is held accountable for living them; and what happens when people don’t live your stated values.

If there are no surprises, congratulate yourself; you’re in a small minority of organizations. On the other hand, there’s a good chance that your people are telling you what they think you want to hear. Then what?

I will address all of these elements and how to deal with them in more detail in the continuing series. I’ll start by giving you some ideas about how to create a culture of accountability. The approach may surprise you. Stay tuned.


Bill Leider

Bill is a Managing Partner at Axies Group – a consulting firm, focused primarily on helping leaders develop Balanced Organizations, focused on Vision, Values, Values-driven leadership, Culture, Strategy and Greater Purpose. Clients range from Fortune 500’s to mid-size companies to start-ups in many industries He has also been the CEO of both publicly held and privately owned companies. His book: Brand Delusions looks at Brands from a holistic perspective and has been critically acclaimed. You can learn more about him at: www.axiesgroup.com.





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Book Reviews

Mastering Your Balance

Amazon Book Reviews

D. Thurman April 7, 2021

The areas of balance required to perform as a top level organization are lifted from the almost unconscious to the very conscious in Mastering Your Balance. As a business and executive coach I see business leaders mostly consumed 95% if the time with near term issues. A perpetual game of Whack-A-Mole.

Perhaps, getting the various elements covered in the book in play and more importantly in balance these leaders would have far less moles to whack, and therefore much more time and energy available execute on their greater purpose.

Shane Willard April 21, 2021

Bill & Jason get it. Having coached thousands of businesses and business leaders their insight is invaluable. They beautifully weave Vision, Values, Culture, Strategy & Purpose together into actionable steps any leader can implement. As they say, no matter how good one is at these individual elements, without balance greatness will always lie just behind your reach.

The 'what-would-it-take' concept in Chapter 2 makes you peel back the excuses and think creatively. "To achieve the impossible you must first envision the improbable."

At its core, this book serves as a blueprint for each vital element necessary to achieve success and balance organizationally (and personally). It reminds leadership where they need to focus.

Joe Fera April 1, 2021

What would it take to shatter your limiting beliefs and lead your company to heights only dreamed? Read ‘Mastering Your Balance’. Bill & Jason have demystified the ‘Dark Matter’ of great leadership and great organizations and boiled it down to highly actionable and implementable elements. Aha moments abound!

LR March 31, 2021

Mastering Your Balance answers the question and is a must read and reread for any organization daring to go from good to great! Mastering Your Balance shines a much needed light, drawing our attention to it, causing us to remember it's significance. More than words, we are reminded that a carefully crafted mission/vision statement is the organization's North Star.

Severin Sorensen March 24, 2021

As a business coach I'm always looking for books to inspire the human mind, and give direction to business owners seeking to raise their performance in the great game of business. Mastering Your Balance is one of those books. The authors are experienced in the art of giving profound advice to their clients.