Join Jeff Weiner for an in-depth discussion in this video Vision to values: Values, part of On Leadership by Jeff Weiner.
- Values distinct from culture nested underneath the culture, your values help create culture. Values are the first principles upon which you make day to day operating decisions. These matter in a big way if you're both going to scale and avoid those unattended consequences. This is the how, this is the how. The more specific you can be, the more you can trust your employees, the more you can trust the team. Actually operate when you're not in the room. And you know when you're 15 people in one room somewhere, and you're a founder or a leader with a strong set of core values, that sometimes can be enough. But when you move to multiple floors, maybe you can still get away with it. When you move to different buildings, cities and countries, you need leaders in these places that are all aligned, that are all in the same page, that are all talking the same talk, and walking the same walk. There's no faster way for a hyper growth company to go off the rails, than to not codify your culture and values or, worst still, codify them and then compromise them by filling seats, putting people in seats, hiring people in critical positions, who you know are not necessarily going to be accretive to your culture and values, but have the right skills, the right experiences, and you can't help yourself. You need to hire them. And the more authority and influence they have within your organization, especially the further they are away from you literally in terms of physical proximity, the more likely they are to rely upon their own sense of culture and values. And they can start to pull an organization apart. Nature abhors a vacuum, nature abhors a vacuum. And people, especially senior folks, when misaligned, they will project into that vacuum their own way of doing things. So when I first joined the company there were 338 people. We all fit into the break room in Sterling Court for our allhance. (man laughs) That's a true story. So it's very different operating a company that scale than operating a company at our current scale. And this is the, pretty much the first piece of advice I give to startup founders who are achieving some degree of success. I say, "What's your vision of values?" And they go, "Huh? "What's vision of values?" And we talk a little bit about framework, and we say, "You may have been calling it something else, "but what's your narrative, what's your plan? "How can you distill that down?" And then inevitably, the vast, vast, these are successful companies by the way, the vast majority of them have not defined essentially any of this. Some may have a loosely defined mission over here or a loosely defined vision over there, some may have a few values they've been playing around with. And then you ask them to pull something like this together. And, listen, if you've been operating a company for some period of time, if you helped build that company, and someone asks you vision of values after a year and a half or two years, it's not going to take you several months to do this, it shouldn't. Because it should be implicit to some extent. And then it's a question of a few weeks, maybe a couple of months where you just take the time to really tighten it up and codify it, and there's incredible value there. I mentioned our mission vision, there's power in the stability of mission, vision, culture and values, and then certain things should be changing. Your strategy should be changing, value props may evolve over time with success, your measurable objectives need to change, the actual objective itself, if not the definition the number has to change as you continue to grow. But there's a lot of power to stability in terms of what I would call the big four: mission, vision, culture, and values. We've only made one change to those four pillars over 10+ years. And that was only one word. So we changed "demand excellence" to "inspire excellence," and the reason for that, we revisit this every year. It may not seem like it given how little of it has changed. We revisit it every year and every year its like a blank piece of paper, do we want to change any of this? And this year as we were doing that exercise with regard to the values, I have always felt like if I could change one thing, that "relationships matter," I always felt like we should be more specific and, you know, I'm very partial, "managing compassionately," so I broached that and then the team felt like "managing compassionately" may be too specific and there's something to be said about the power of "relationships matter," across all of our constituents. But after I suggested that someone else around the table, leadership table, said, "But what about 'demand excellence'?" It was so interesting because when they said it everyone else knew what they were referring to. Every one of us, every single person around that table, the executive team table, said that anytime they were reviewing Culture and Values, when they'd get to that particular value, the word demand would get stuck in their throats. Because we're not a demanding culture. We're a culture and an organization that values inspiration. We always have. It's one of the ways I define leadership. It was one of the first slides we reviewed as a group, right? The ability to inspire others to achieve shared objectives. So it was like that fast, so like within a minute someone suggested, it was actually Blythe Yee Head of Internal Communication she said, "What about Inspire instead of Demand?" We were all like, "Yup, that's exactly right." That's what happens when you know yourselves and you know your organization and you're creating a form where you can have discussions like that. But it was that fast, so, the answer earlier in terms of, you know, this could take months to get right at scale, the beauty of working with a team and having that kind of cohesion and being aligned, so align. This is, being able to change it in a minute was a byproduct of working together for ten years.
Learn about the importance of maintaining awareness of yourself, your team, your industry, and the world at large. Explore the topic of synthesis, which you achieve through developing your vision and values and by focusing on the most important priorities. Plus, learn about the role of inspiration in leadership, both in terms of being true to your own values and motivating others.