Living into our values is one of the four skill sets that make up Daring Leadership. It means that we do more than profess our values, we practice them. We walk our talk—we are clear about what we believe and hold important, and we take care that our intentions, words, thoughts, and behaviors align with those beliefs.
The findings from the research are clear: We can’t live into values that we can’t name AND, living into values requires moving from lofty aspirations to specific, observable behaviors.
In Dare to Lead, Brené writes,
“One reason we roll our eyes when people start talking about values is that everyone talks a big values game but very few people actually practice one. It can be infuriating, and it’s not just individuals who fall short of the talk. In our experience, only about 10 percent of organizations have operationalized their values into teachable and observable behaviors that are used to train their employees and hold people accountable.
If you’re not going to take the time to translate values from ideals to behaviors—if you’re not going to teach people the skills they need to show up in a way that’s aligned with those values and then create a culture in which you hold one another accountable for staying aligned with the values—it’s better not to profess any values at all. They become a joke. A cat poster. Total BS.”
A courageous culture connects its values to specific behaviors so people know what is expected, encouraged, and rewarded within their team and organization. In addition to setting clear expectations, the process gives organizations shared language and a well-defined culture. It helps us determine cultural fit during hiring, and offers us very straightforward standards of behavior when there are non-performance-related issues.
Operationalized values also drive productive decision making. When values aren’t clear, we can easily become paralyzed—or, just as dangerous, we become too impulsive. Operationalized values drive what I think of as the sweet spot of decision making: thoughtful and decisive.
Ready to put your organization’s values into practice? Here are downloadable tools and resources to help teams operationalize organization values into behaviors.