In my last post we discussed the need to courageously face the brutal facts and resist the temptation to “bend the map”. So, for leaders, the obvious follow-up question’s are:
- Where do we find this courage?
- What’s the solid foundation we can plant our feet on?
- Where do we find the confidence that, regardless of the outcome of our decisions, we can rest knowing we made them based on strong values and clear convictions?
It’s in this last question that we find the foundation to having the courage to make those tough decisions. We need to seek, find and articulate both our personal and our organizational values and beliefs. So to that end, let’s take a brief look at both core values and beliefs and the critical role each play in making tough decisions.
Core values answer the question – what’s most important? What are the things we’re willing to work and sacrifice for, and never compromise on? What’s so important that we’ll defend these values even if it causes great pain and loss? Think of the great price paid by the men and women of our military to defend our nation’s core values of liberty and freedom. Core values, when used in decision-making, provide a guide on what we’re willing to do and not to do.
The second half of our foundation for courage is knowing our core beliefs. Core beliefs answer the question – what do we believe to be true? They’re different from core values because they’re found outside of ourselves or our organization not from within. Though they’re similar to core values, because when they’re core we’re willing to defend, sacrifice, and suffer pain and loss because of them. However we must remember that core beliefs are true regardless of whether everyone values or believes them. Articulating core beliefs is an act of acknowledging the reality in which we live and work and gives us a solid foundation to face and make difficult decisions. It keeps us from “bending the map” and helps assure we’re making decisions that match up with the realities of the world.
So as leaders we have the dual responsibility of knowing and articulating both our personal as well as our organization’s core values and beliefs. They provide us the foundation for the courage we need to make tough decisions, the peace of mind we seek during difficult times and the guard rails to keep us on track.
If you’ve never articulated your personal and your team’s core values and belief’s I encourage you to begin the process as soon as possible. Taking time before the new year begins will help you and your leadership prepare for the inevitable tough decisions that will come your way in 2016.
It’s the day after the 2014 mid-term elections and I’m reminded once again by the importance trust plays in the relationship between leaders and those who choose to follow. In politics, it seems, we’ve become obsessed with what I call Ethical Trust. Ethical Trust’s built when people share the same core values and the same fundamental beliefs about the world. It’s a powerful trust that drives so much of our political process. And, for sure, it’s the most important trust. It’s hard to follow a leader where there’s little or no ethical trust.
But because it’s the most important trust, we tend to believe it’s the only trust a leader needs. But it’s not. A leader needs, and a potential follower should demand, a second absolutely essential trust. You see it’s one thing to have Ethical Trust but there’s another kind of trust built on making good on the implied promises Ethical Trust makes. This second trust is what I call Competency Trust. It’s the trust that comes when a leader can and actually meets or exceeds performance expectations and delivers on their commitments. They deliver because of their experience, ability and will to succeed. Too often we vote for and elect officials (or put our hope in leaders) based only on Ethical Trust and we forget to ask – “can they actually deliver on our shared values and beliefs?”
So both Ethical and Competency Trusts are absolutely essential for a leader to succeed. Because earning the full and complete trust of those who choose to follow is the only way effective leadership happens. And without trust there is no leadership, only management, dictatorship, or simply ineffectiveness.
So whether you’re a leader, or choosing to follow one, never accept just one kind of trust, if you do, you’ll either disappoint or be disappointed because the job will not get done.
In The Leadership Challenge the authors Kouzes and Posner recommend an exercise that helps clarify one’s vision. They recommend writing on paper “what I (we) want to accomplish” followed by asking the question why, writing down your answer, and then keeping asking why until you’ve run out of reasons. The result is an insight into your core motivations and the beliefs behind what you want to accomplish.
When I did this exercise, answering the “why” behind what we do and what we want to be at SpringHill I ended with a core set of believes that I then articulated in a form of a confession.
Though this isn’t an official SpringHill statement it does, I believe, hit at the heart of many of the reasons behind why SpringHill staff are so passionate about what we do and why we do it.
What I Believe to Be True!
I believe the most transformational moments in a person’s life begins with a saving faith in Jesus Christ and a vibrant, growing relationship with Him.
I believe that the most likely time for a person to have these transformational moments is when they are a child.
I believe these transformational moments in a child’s life best happen through the partnership of parents, local churches and ministries such as SpringHill.
I agree with Bill Hybles, that the local church is the hope of the world.
But I also believe that the future hope of the local church rest with children. Therefore, if we want to strengthen the local church and thus change the world, the most important thing we can all do is to focus our time, energy and resources on the spiritual development of children.
I believe that, through the partnership of people and organizations that share these same convictions, we can create more opportunities for more young people to have these transformational experiences, thus preparing them to join us in creating a better world.
- Finally, I believe God has called SpringHill to create significant transformational experiences for young people where they can know and grow in their relationship with Jesus. I know this to be true because I’ve been privileged to be a part of and witness to 1000’s of young lives being transformed every year.