I am working on it. I am in progress. I endeavor to create value at every turn. For the organizational leader, creating value is steeped in unit economic theory: how do you create value and how do you capture value? I am focusing on the first part of that equation in this article. I admit that, at times, the tyranny of the urgent puts me off the trail in pursuit of this mantra, but I am trying to keep it sacred. Two points of recent inspiration are driving my pursuit of this principle. The first is my direct observation of leaders who are successfully navigating tricky workplace challenges while also forging ahead with their strategic plans to be better and I see how commitment to value creation for their constituencies is an organizational imperative that drives performance. In addition, I draw inspiration from a gentleman by the name of Albert Einstein (fun fact: turns out Einstein was not given a middle name … hmm; who knew?), who urged us to, “Try not be a person of success but rather try to be a person of value.” Einstein contributed value to the world at scale yet still maintained a fundamental ethos of value over others’ projected definition of success. Thanks, Albert.
Application: Leading an organization in normal circumstances is no joke. Leading when there is a new “work contract” evolving every day between employers and employees, requires a different set of skills. I am fortunate to witness firsthand when leaders create value for their teams, clients, board members, etc. Here is how I see leaders create value, even during high-pressure crucibles:
1. Recognize or encourage – nothing creates as much value in the relationship capital department quite like the recognition of a team member’s contribution or an authentic encouragement to that team member before an impactful moment for the organization. This value creation manifests in that team member as confidence and commitment.
2. Ask questions -- Somewhat counterintuitively, asking questions can often be a catalyst for value creation by a leader. Questions often reflect humility or inquiry, which can propel a discussion or a debate towards resolution in a civil way where the best idea wins. Questions can also serve to build precision and confidence in a team member as they think/process to answer the question.
3. Be clear – Clarity is a gift to your team. It could be the ultimate value creation moment. When the team is clear on the priority, on their role, on the plan, the value flows from all points of contribution.
4. Tell a story/be vulnerable – Connection to the human heart and mind is value creation fuel. Stories are invaluable to your teams, especially your next level leaders, as they can take that story and make it their own in some way and actionable to their respective departments. Vulnerability by a leader also generates value creation as teams can connect and relate to what is being shared in a way that is likely to contribute to engagement and performance. Value creation yields better teams, cultures and performance.
Commitment: Now, back to Einstein. As I approach 50 years of life, I am never more inspired than when I see real leadership show up and it shows up most effectively, in my humble opinion, when it is grounded in humility, learning, clarity and care. Einstein embodied these characteristics in many ways and never stopped creating value. My action item to commit to: before every interaction I will encourage myself to create value for the human being or team with whom I will be engaging as a conscious reminder to execute. TO VALUE CREATION!