Bernie Anderson
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Clarified Values Are Corroborated Values

If behavior is so critical when it comes to great leadership, the question remains:

What does this behavior look like?

Every organization I've worked for has a set of values. Sometimes they're stated. Sometimes they're unstated.

And sometimes they're both.

Stated Values

Wendy's states they value "Food, Family, and Community."
Walmart claims to be guided by the values of service to the customer, respect for the individual, excellence, and integrity.

These are the values printed on posters and in "careers" documentation. Required reading and memorization for new employees. What gets calligraphied for the public eye. Most companies, churches, and non-profit organizations have stated values. Brainstormed during extended board meetings with whiteboards and flip-charts and open-ended discussions. Often wordsmithed in extensions to the extended board meetings, with much quibbling over the words "which" and "that."

Unstated Values

This is how we act - whether it be personally or corporately. Sybarites value the good life, no matter how much they may claim to hold a philosophy minimalism. We live out what we value. Corporations write "quality" on their walls all the time. Many of the same corporations actually value "increased margin at any cost," based on their behavior. "Integrity" is nothing more than aspirational if it's nothing but words on a piece of paper.

Ever one of us could personally make an honest list of "unstated values". It may include things like "family" - and it may include things like "get rich".

Clarified Values

Power is in having clarified values. Aspirational values we may have brainstormed in a boardroom, coupled with the behavior required to live them out.

For a company, this may mean a culture shift. For an individual, this will mean shifting behavior.

For many, the framework looks like this:

Stated Value: Fitness and Exercise.

Unstated Value: Nightly Netflix and multiple bowls of caramel corn. (The value being "entertainment.")

Clarified Value: A schedule which allows for daily physical activity (perhaps by cutting back an episode or two, and subbing the popcorn for kale chips).

Or

I value entertainment. Period. Fitness is not important.

Travel is not a value, if you never go anywhere.
Financial fitness is not a value, if you don't have a budget.
Integrity is not a value, if your company uses Asian sweat shops.

Behavior corroborates values.

Here's a fun exercise for the weekend.

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  • Make a list of your stated values (the things you feel are pivotal to your life for the long-term).
  • Make an honest list of your unstated values (the things you actually center your life around).
  • Make a list of practical changes you need to make in to clarify your values.

This is an exercise worthy of an organization, as well.

Clarify your values. Think well of your aspirations. Adjust your behavior to get there.