The American novelist Henry James may seem a strange place to start in thinking about values and behaviors in leadership. He came up with a wonderful insight in an essay on language: All life comes back to the question of our speech, to the question of our relations with each other. In other words, how we relate to each other at any time or place is intimate with how we speak to (and hear) each other.
What lies behind this? Our relations with each other determine what is possible in leadership terms; just try leading a group of people you have never met, whom you don’t know and who have no knowledge of you.
Great organizations know that values work when on a bad day when no one is looking, their people still do the right thing. And sticking to your values means that your organization will be consistent over time; further, it means a greater degree of clarity in actual operations, since the values provide an answer to any new situation; and finally, it means less time spent on supervision and overseeing other staff – the values should guide their behavior.
Relating well to others, encouraging and transforming them, and at the same time continuing to develop ourselves are behaviors characterized by Humility and Love in the Heartstyles model. Growing others and taking responsibility for our personal growth are foundational imperatives in the model. We will find more commonalities amongst ourselves when we have shared values to live and work by.