Values: The Lifeblood of an Organization

Organizational Health

Many companies are quick to point out their values when a customer or prospect walks in the door. They are proud of what they stand for.

Then there are many other companies who don’t have any formal values posted anywhere.

Values Drive Business

I have known many people who think that mission statements, vision statements, and values are a waste of time and keep an organization from being “productive.” But if you look at some of the most successful companies in the world, these are a key reminder to keep employees focused on what’s important.

The values that are being lived out that determine the health or the corporate culture.

“Integrity” is a word that is usually the first word out of someone’s mouth when they talk about values.

It sounds nice, doesn’t it?

“Our company values integrity.”

Not only is integrity a great value to have, but it’s the key to whether or not the corporate values are worth the paper that they’re printed on.

Your Corporate Culture

It has been said that a person’s true leadership ability shines in a time of crisis. This is also true for organizations. The true corporate culture will show when times get tough, regardless of what is written somewhere in a mission, vision, or values statement.

Here are a few critical steps to ensuring your organization embodies the values it stands for:

Build buy-in from the current employees

If your employees don’t buy-in to the organization’s values, they’re worthless. Like any vision that is cast, buy-in is vital to its success. Include as many employees as possible in setting the values.

Hold round-table discussions or run a contest to incentivize them to participate in the process. The key is to have as many people as possible feel ownership in the decision – it is the best form of buy-in.

Don’t stop talking about them

Values can’t just be written once and thrown in a drawer. In order for them to be in the front of everyone’s mind, they have to be discussed constantly.

  • Mention them individually whenever the entire company is addressed.
  • Put them in your email signature.
  • Print a poster on the wall or hang them in the offices and cubes.
  • Whatever you have to do, get them in front of people.

Align your business practices around them

The key to integrity is doing what you said you were going to do, right? If you want to represent a value, you have to live up to it. This means doing what you say you’re going to do even if it’s difficult.

Many companies include the company’s values as a part of the annual employee evaluation process. For example, if you value your employee’s growth, then you have to support them. You have to move them on to new challenges when they’re ready.

Don’t keep them at a job just because they do it very well. If you value customer service, make sure the customer is the focus of everyone in the organization.

Don’t be afraid to let people go

Companies often show that they honor performance over values. If a person is going against the corporate values, you have to be willing to part ways – even if they’re a strong performer. When a person can repeatedly fall short the company’s values, everyone around them knows it.

It sends a very strong message if that person is kept or if they are let go.

Keeping them will breed distrust in management because you are not practicing what you preach. Worse yet, nothing can be swept under the rug. You will either deal with it now by letting the person go, or you will deal with it later by the decline in employee morale. One decision affects one person negatively while the other effects the entire organization.

Which one do you think is best?

Hire the right people

This is truly a key component of any business’s success, isn’t it?

Not only is it important to hire someone who is technically competent for the position, but their values need to be measured as well. Study after study has shown that corporate culture is one of the greatest factors in a company’s success.

So a candidate who has average ability but holds the same values is going to be a much better fit for your corporate culture than someone with strong ability and different values.

Values are the lifeblood of any organization. Align your people and processes with the corporate values and you will create a company that is enjoyable to work for sets up long-term success.

What are your organizations values? Are you building a culture that promotes them in everything they do? If the organization doesn’t live and breathe the values, what comes forward in a time of crisis? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Rich Bishop

Rich Bishop is President of Bishop Coaching & Consulting Group
He serves with hands-on approach to Development through Coaching & Training
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On Leadership, Toyota, and Successfully Implementing Change

Medical Robot

I am a medical doctor and Professor of Medicine. I treat human beings. I also understand how they behave. Humans are creatures of habit. And when it comes time to improve performance, many of us fear, or even reject, change.

However, maintaining the status quo rarely leads to improvement.

And in the practice of medicine, improvement should be a priority.

Through trial, error, and eventual success, I have found that effective change requires unique skills often not taught in standard leadership courses.

Gatorounds 1.0

My first significant experience with implementing change came when I decided to improve teamwork during hospital work rounds at the University of Florida (UF).

Modern medical care has become too complex for one person to manage.

When faced with complexity, the business world assembles multidisciplinary teams in which members effectively share their expertise and work together to achieve their goal.

I had found that caregivers were not enamored with business models, and my attempt to use the Toyota Production System as the guiding set of principles met with resistance.

Learning From Athletics

I realized that virtually everyone can relate to a successful athletic team, even if only as a spectator. Modeling our rounding system on athletic principles proved to be a more practical and accessible model. The use of athletic principles allowed me to draw on every caregiver’s past experiences to improve their teamwork.

I embraced this approach with great enthusiasm, so you can imagine my dismay when my colleagues exhibited a lukewarm response to my concept of Gatorounds (named for the university’s mascot, the alligator).

I didn’t understand that proposing this seemingly straightforward approach would force a dramatic change in the way work rounds were conducted.

The physician would no longer be the captain of the ship, but rather become the team coach.

This meant that physicians would have to give up some of their power and empower others to truly assist in the care of their patients.

This challenged the concept of the lone heroic practitioner managing every detail of his or her patient’s care.

Creating Social Disequilibrium

I did have the backing of the Chairman of Medicine, so I began to implement Gatorounds, and I experienced firsthand the effects of creating social disequilibrium. I’d created playbooks that defined the role of each caregiver and established a schedule for arriving at patient rooms.

The idea of scheduling was met with great resistance by one of the chief residents.

When bedside nurses were encouraged to be active participants on the multidisciplinary teams, one resident folded her arms and refused to enter the patient’s room.

I pointed out that, as the quarterback, she needed to be on the field.

Unfortunately, this metaphor was lost on her, and she remained in the hallway, scowling.

In the midst of implementing these changes, I failed to recognize the degree of resistance I was generating and blindly forged ahead. Physicians began talking behind my back. I was viewed as a troublemaker. The Chairman of Medicine became displeased and suggested I was a poor leader, even threatening to discharge me from my role as Division Chief.

Realizing that my good intentions were being misinterpreted, I went on sabbatical.

Studying Leadership

I joined the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Leadership Initiative, and for the next year, I studied leadership, teamwork, organizing people to bring about cultural change, and healthcare delivery systems.

The mistakes I made in implementing Gatorounds quickly became obvious.

As luck would have it, my absence from UF eliminated some of the friction I’d caused. Some of the physicians had appreciated the positive effects of Gatorounds, and once I was no longer pushing this system on them, the concept of using athletic principles to promote teamwork became part of the status quo.

Gatorounds 2.0 

When I returned to UF, a new Chairman of Medicine and Vice Chairman for Clinical Care had been appointed, both of whom saw the potential benefits of Gatorounds.

They encouraged me to reinitiate my pilot program.

Actively keeping in mind what I’d learned at Harvard, I began to quietly implement Gatorounds 2.0.

This time, while coaching new physicians on the fundamentals, I repeatedly asked questions and listened to their concerns. I was profuse in my praise when the proper procedures were followed.

When the appropriate protocol wasn’t being followed, I gently suggested a better way.

Occasionally, I invited physicians for a cup of coffee, creating a comfortable environment where I could describe the successful approaches of other physicians that they might consider emulating.

I carefully managed these relationships, encouraged everyone to help with the implementation, and recruited a group of physician champions.

I’m proud to say that Gatorounds has now been fully implemented, and staff satisfaction has steadily increased.

Rounding now takes 2/3 of the time it once did, and without any decrease in patient satisfaction.

The Adaptive Leader’s Playbook

For an adaptive leader to successfully implement change, he must be fully cognizant of the challenges he faces. People try to prevent change in one of two ways: procrastinating and personally attacking the leader. Change creates smoke, and people think where there’s smoke, there must be fire.

The key skill for an adaptive leader is to generate smoke without a destructive fire.

Disequilibrium should be monitored, and change slowed, when emotions run high.

The Ideal Leader

The ideal leader coaches others and trains them to be effective leaders. The creation of a leadership team responsible for making decisions and implementing change can diffuse the responsibility and protect the individual leader from becoming the sole target for those in favor of the status quo.

By identifying like-minded employees to create a leadership team that develops strategies, the adaptive leader will be able to establish more effective approaches.

3 Steps to Change

There are three elements to keep in mind when approaching change:

  1. Trust others to design strategies for change, and encourage everyone to act.
  2. Continually compliment and reward those who create, and support effective strategies for change.
  3. Keep your eye on the goals; accept that change will make people uncomfortable, and understand there will be discord.

A leader who is knowledgeable, encouraging, and patient can orchestrate fruitful change. Indeed, they’re the only ones who ever have.


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Dr. Frederick Southwick is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Florida
He is the author of “Critically Ill: A 5 Point Plan To Cure Healthcare Delivery”
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Why is Leadership So Difficult?

Confused Leader

I’ve had the pleasure of being on vacation in a warm destination for the past ten days and have spent many hours lounging by the pool with one eye on my son and one ear eavesdropping on many conversations.

I’m always curious about people’s complaints about their work environments, especially about their leaders.

Nothing beats real world research to bring clarity to issues.

Amazed and Confused

After ten days of listening to these comments, and at times engaging in the conversations, I am left boggled with how many leaders out there just don’t “get” leadership and what the impact of this is to their staff and their organizations.

I heard so many comments about leaders that spent all of their time telling and very little time listening, leaders that did not treat their teams with trust or respect and yet expected them to act in a professional manner, and story after story that can easily be covered with the phrase “that’s not my job” which just shouts lack of engagement…

Leadership Do Over

Having spent close to 20 years in people leadership roles, I have definitely learned a lot over that time, and often wish I could go back and apologize to some of the first team members I worked with in my leadership capacity.

It definitely took me a few years to sort out the difference between management and leadership… And a few bumps along the way to help speed up the learning curve.

Over the last many years, I’ve become convinced the we seem to be making leadership more complicated, with all the different leadership books, websites, courses etc..

3 Key Points

When you boil it down to the basics, everything important falls under three key points:

  1. Set clear expectations
  2. Hold people accountable to the expectations
  3. Recognize the successes and coach forward to support the learning opportunities

As all of these observations were floating around my head today, I was intrigued to read the Harvard Business Review blog post by Tony SchwartzReward Value, Not Face Time,” which was like watching my thoughts flow out in word in front of me.

His observations about moving through our fear of management (the need to see everyone in front of us in the workplace), and lead forward through trust to create value is something that I hope every people leader can tackle — the rewards are many.

Leading People, Not Managing Minutes

As a leader, all of a sudden you will find capacity to tackle other projects or opportunities when you are no longer managing the minutes in front of you. As a team member, more often than not, people grab hold of the newfound space and reach for the moon to prove their capabilities.

The multiplier of these two simple changes results in increased organizational capacity, capabilities, and outputs.

So let’s move away from the newest leadership book or trend and focus on those three simple foundational items to help us all move forward.

In doing so, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How will you set clear expectations for your team today?
  • Will you write a list of those expectations? 
  • Will you engage your team in coming up with appropriate expectations?
  • How will you hold people accountable to the expectations you have set in stone?
  • In what way will you recognize and reward the successes you see moving forward?


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Lee Vincent is Principal at Look-Solutions
She serves in Change & Engagement Mgmt, Executive Coaching, Strategy Deployment
Email |LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | WebBlog | 867-456-4562

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Check-the-Box Leadership

Leadership Checklist

Does your leadership style sometimes end up blurting out on you?

blurt (blûrt)

tr.v. blurt·edblurt·ingblurts

To utter suddenly and impulsively

Check The Box

Checklist~ You went to the courses.

~ You learned about yourself and others.

~ You even brought it back to the team and taught a lunch-and-learn.

Voila. All done.

Check the box.

You’re a bona fide leader now. You have the certificate to prove it.

That was last Tuesday…


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Back to Reality

Now, your work has piled up, AGAIN. You have three people off sick, your own family have non – stop lessons, homework, you are trying to get to the gym and the car needs an oil change.

It’s time to forget about the course and the lunch-and-learn.  The fun relationship time, well – you don’t have time.

All you have time to do is ‘take charge’; get back in control. The list of tasks comes out and you start “managing.”

Do this. Do that.

They are not listening.

“My staff is really annoying me today.”

So, they get more ‘managing.’

Do some more of this.

Do some more of that.

Still not getting the results?

Or even worse, you did get the results, today.

Guess what they are up to tonight?

They are on the job site uploading their resume.

It’s the blurt band-aid. And it’s back.

  • The blurt band-aid is what we come back to that is familiar.
  • It is the old adage: “Old habits die-hard.”
  • This is where your metal as a leader is tested.
  • You can’t go back. You must only go forward.
  • It is absolutely HARD to be a leader.
  • It is exhausting at times.
  • You have to think about what everyone needs.

Be Heard

So how does a leader balance all of their day-job stuff and still be there for all of the pesky needs of their teams?  It gets easy if you slow down and and try to gain some perspective. Think about what you need. Diagnosing where are they at and how you need to change and flex to be understood. You have to consider that the reason ‘they are not listening’ is because you haven’t earned to right to be heard.

You are not speaking their language, simply blurting.

There are so many great leadership concepts, books, courses, development pieces out there. but it is absolutely up to you to commit to finding the one that rips that band-aid off forever.

Study It, Practice It, Earn It

Becoming a leader isn’t a promotion but rather it is a skill set. You would not become a CA or a lawyer without study, development and practice.  This area of discipline comes with equal responsibility. One is to stop blurting and invest in your own development and awareness, your talent, your community and consider leadership just as you would a degree.

What are top strengths as a leader? What are the areas in which you may be blurting rather than leading? When did you last consider your leadership style and the match to each of those that you provide leadership to? Is it a mismatch? Why?  When did you last take charge of your own development and create a plan for yourself? I would love to hear your insights!

Delana McKinsley Zarokostas is VP Housing & Development at Related Group of Companies
She serves her clients in building organizational development and effectiveness

Email | LinkedIn | FacebookSkype: delana1973 | (403) 472 – 7779

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The Exceptional Strength of Followership

Ducks in a Row

This month marks a remarkable time in all of our lives. It doesn’t matter where you live, how you were raised, or which side of any current news-story you are on, these are remarkable times!

It seems that we have opened this decade with a torrent of “worst-that-could-happen” news.  In fact, the USA political, social, and economic issues seem to pale in comparison to the bigger, global picture.

Major Recent Happenings

Just take a look at the global events that have recently unfolded to get perspective:

  • Multiple courageous uprisings from strong dictatorships in an effort to free civilians of oppression and injustice
  • Continued force and oppression from other strong dictatorships to bury the uprisings
  • Multiple natural disasters creating several “worst-that-could-happen” moments. Then only to be followed by more “worst-that-could-happen” fallout from those disasters

Right now, the heartbreaking reality is, in fact, truly heartbreaking in its reality.

The Best in Humanity

Still, and amidst it all, we are bearing witness to some of the strongest natural characteristics in human beings.  Some of it is related to nature—all animals display some level of resilience, adaptability, courage, and forward thinking.

After all, that is Darwinism at its best, isn’t it?

Sure, but you cannot deny that there is something very human coming through in all the recent calamity: a fervent release of hope, community, leadership, and most importantly followership.

On Leading & Following

This is by far one of the most exceptional times for leaders. It is a time to easily measure the power of a leader on a global stage. Just turn on the news and gauge the effectiveness of any leader by seeing their acts of leadership in comparison to the acts of the followership.

In a remarkable way, these acts of  “New Followership” actually define leadership.

New Followership

“New Followership” this isn’t a new phrase.  “New Followership” has been around for a while, though it’s just starting to take shape in a way that the every-day person can appreciate (me included).  In fact, I had completely forgotten about the mid-90′s and early 2000′s focus on this until recently when I saw a former colleague who asked this question,

Christa, in your opinion and with your experience, it seems like the world just needs new leadership, isn’t that true?

Without even thinking, I said, “No.”

It was in one of my not-often-used tones when I feel so strongly against something there simply isn’t a softer way to respond.  In fact, I am surprised at how quickly I turned down this notion that LEADERSHIP could be a lynchpin against the current heartbreaking realities around the world.

With inner dialog fully engaged, I mentally asked myself: Christa, where are you going with this?

I gave myself a few moments to collect my thoughts, and I went with this explanation:

What the world needs the most now is New Followership.”

Reverse Perspective

You see, “followership” is the single most powerful and critical elements of leadership.

I know that sounds very Yogi Berra of me, but many people still don’t realize how important followership is.  In fact, if you ask anyone about this, they will likely view followership as a form of submission, underestimated because it (by definition) pertains to those who follow someone.

However, it’s easy to at least start seeing followership for what it is:

A term that describes how a mass of people can impact decisions about leadership and direction.

For me, “New Followership” takes it a step further.  It also describes the sense that followers can become the real leader:

  • When the sum of the parts become bigger than the single person
  • When a group provides the very leadership that a singular person cannot deliver
  • When the collective followership becomes the de facto leader, even if for a short transitional time
  • When amassed toward a common, strong, and compelling vision fueled by hope and taken on because of despair, the strength of many can overthrow the persona of one.

This is what we are seeing today in the corners of massive governmental, societal, and social change.

Today’s Example

Even in Japan, we are seeing that the strength of the leaders and the confidence in their abilities is largely demonstrated through their followership.  Many would say that Japan’s sense of followership has more societal weight than leadership—we see that now, don’t we?

No looting, no chaos, no requirement from the leaders to enforce community standards and respectful behavior in the face of desperation…

Now THAT is “New Followership!”

What seems more powerful right now in times of despair?  Leadership or Followership?  How does this relate to previous revolutions, changes, coups, and natural disasters?  Should leaders use today’s news as examples to learn and live more strongly aligned to the importance of Followership?

Christa (Centola) Dhimo, President & Founder, via Best Practices
She helps clients by aligning human capital performance with business results


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Leaders Gain From The Pain

Never Give Up

Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and griefs which we endure help us in our marching onward. ~ Henry Ford

Getting Back In the Saddle

The life of a leader can certainly be challenging sometimes. One minute you feel as though you are totally in control with things going well. And before you know it, you are lying flat on your back wondering what hit you.

The question is not “what knocked you down?,” the question to be answered is “how long will it take you to get back up?

The Rocky Road

I’m sure most people have seen the boxing movie Rocky. In the fight for the championship, Rocky is badly beaten and is knocked down near the end of a round. Everyone who is rooting for him sees how much pain he is in and they all want it to end…for his sake.

One by one, they begin to yell “stay down Rocky, stay down.” But Rocky refuses to stay down and pulls himself up to a standing position just before the referee ends the match by reaching the count of  TEN.  Bloody and swollen, Rocky goes on to finish the round.

If you haven’t been knocked down in life, chances are that you eventually will.  But rarely will you ever get knocked out.


But once you are knocked down, the count begins.

Here is what a champion does to get back up and win the fight…

One“…take a few deep breaths…

Two“… assess your situation…

Three“….is it really so bad that you can’t continue?…

Four“…you decide to get up…

Five“…you hurt, you’re losing confidence, your opponent appears too strong…

Six“…a few more breaths to clear your mind…

Seven“…now you’re on one foot…

Eight“…you put weight on both feet even though you are in a great deal of pain…

Nine“… wobbling and dizzy you begin to rise.

Then, you are standing on your own two feet….the count stops as you stand up and wave off the referee…you want to continue.  Seconds later, the bell rings.

That wasn’t so bad…you’re stronger than you thought.  Bring on the next round!


Stretched Beyond Your Limit

Working Through ItEach time something knocks us down, we gain knowledge about our character. Whether in a family, work, or recreational situation, setbacks and challenges mean we have pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone.

We are no longer playing it safe and are stretching beyond our self-imposed limitations. This is when personal growth occurs. This is what effective leaders do.

Challenge yourself and your team members to do something that you each feel is just beyond your ability. Like a weight lifter, only when we push ourselves to our limit can we truly know what we are capable of.

So attempt something bold.  You have very little to lose and a lot to gain.

Believe in yourself. If you fail on your first attempt, forget it. Focus on your next attempt and so on. The only way to lose is to quit before you succeed.

Do you model a “never give up” attitude for your employees?  Have  you ever felt so motivated to complete a task or a challenge that no matter what happened you simply refused to quit? How can we as leaders instill this motivation in our own team members?

Bookmark Leaders Gain From The Pain

Ken Jones, AIA, LEED AP is a Vice President at Grimm + Parker Architects in MD
A service-focused leader, Ken helps create meaningful architecture + client  success

Email | LinkedIn | Web | My Blog

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Leader, Don’t Be A Goalie

Preventing Goals

In the game of soccer, the goalie is the person on the team who’s primary objective is to stop goals. To achieve this, goalies get to do things that the other members of the team are not allowed to.

These include:

  • Goalies can use their hands to stop a goal.
  • Goalies can position themselves directly between a player and the goal to prevent the player from scoring.
  • Goalies can dive for the ball and the other player typically must back off so the goalie remains safe at all times.

Great goalies use every bit of skill and ability they have to prevent goals from being scored by the other team.  This is a good thing on the soccer field, or the “pitch” as it is properly called. However, in the workplace leaders who prevent others from accomplishing their goals are often viewed as selfish manipulators who will do anything to protect their position in the company.  Everyone has probably worked for a “Goalie” at some point in their career.

Goalies are those in leadership positions who constantly sabotage their team members’ attempts to accomplish their goals.

A confident leader will create a work environment where there are opportunities for employees to continually grow and make progress toward their goals.  The leader’s objective should be to help his or her staff accomplish each of their individual goals.

A Goalie’s Motivation

Why do some leaders insist on playing Goalie?  I believe the answer is simple.  Insecurity about his or her ability to perform as an effective leader and fear that a member of the team, if given too many opportunities, might develop the skills to do the leader’s job.

This mentality is often seen in service-oriented industries where one’s ability to work well with customers and develop successful relationships is often valued above pure technical knowledge gained through many years of experience.

Having the ability to successfully serve a customer and act as the primary point of contact for one’s company is typically more valuable than knowing all of the details about how the product is designed, fabricated, packaged, etc.

Since customer contact can be so important, it is not that uncommon for less confident leaders to keep junior members of their team away from direct interaction with the customer.  If  team members’ goals are to gain experience building customer relationships, by denying them that opportunity their leader is being a Goalie.

Even when a leader encourages direct interaction between the customer and a member of their team, he or she is often reluctant to let the team member develop into the primary day-to-day contact for that customer.  A sign that this is occurring is when the leader uses the word “I” repeatedly with a customer and takes personal credit for the work performed by the entire team.

Leaders, Help Them Score

Confident and competent leaders will want to duplicate themselves so they can have more time to address big-picture issues within the organization.  The Goalie has the mentality that there is only enough room for a limited number of people in leadership positions.

He or she protects their turf at all costs.

However, a confident leader has an “abundance” mentality and realizes that by helping team members achieve their goals, he or she will likely be able to grow and advance as well.

Can you think of leaders in your organization who like to play Goalie?  How does senior management deal with the leaders?  Are they even aware of what these leaders are doing?  What would you do if you discovered you had a Goalie on your leadership team?

Bookmark Leader, Don't Be A Goalie!

Ken Jones, AIA, LEED AP
is a Vice President at Grimm + Parker Architects in MD
A service-focused leader, Ken helps create meaningful architecture + client  success

Email | LinkedIn | Web | My Blog

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