Values and Leadership
By Rafael Pastor, Chairman and CEO, Vistage International, Inc.
An essential component of leadership is to articulate and exemplify the organization’s core values. These values must be clear, compelling, and repeated. And the leader must both “walk the talk” and inspire his/her colleagues within the organization to also live the values.
This is essential because the core values define the organization and differentiate it from others. The values also create a unifying bond among those within the organization’s community. And perhaps most importantly, the values set a higher purpose for what the people within the organization do or produce. At Vistage, for example, we help business executives and the many others they influence to be more successful and even happier. That brings incalculable meaningfulness and satisfaction to each of us within the Vistage community.
The foundation for this is our core values of Trust, Caring, Challenge, and Growth. Vistage is an organization comprising 14,500 chief executive officers and business owners in 15 countries. These four values are consistently practiced and form the foundation for monthly meetings and events where CEOs collaborate with other CEO peers on business topics, strategic planning, and problem solving. Applying these values creates the robust and distinctive environment for Vistage members (CEOs) to challenge each other with openness, honest dialog, and rigorous conversation. Our core values shape our interactions within the Vistage community and move beyond, through our members, to their 2 million employees…and to their families and communities. The power of these values, practiced in every monthly meeting and at national and international gatherings, creates the canvas on which the Vistage experience is realized.
We work to live up to these values each and every day. In such a rapidly changing world, we’ve found these values to be both timeless and timely. Let’s look at them, one at a time:
Trust: It all starts with trust. But trust is not automatic; it needs to be earned through attentive listening, encouraging individual creativity, and giving candid feedback. Only then can a culture of openness, collaboration, and innovation be built on trust. Importantly, leaders need to show their people that they trust them as the first step to building mutual trust.
Caring: From trust emerges caring. Employees need to know that their leader not only cares about the short- and longer-term viability and growth of the organization, but also cares about them as people. And this caring must be authentic and consistent. An employee wants to know: Is this leader committed to helping me develop my talents and to reach my professional aspirations? A leader who really cares inspires co-workers who really care.
Challenge: Consider challenge the yang to the yin of caring. Effective leaders can motivate employees to be more creative, productive, and persistent…to “raise their game” so they can achieve their own full potential. Challenge means not only asking people to do more and better; it’s also about challenging people’s assumptions and often their self-limiting beliefs. Sometimes this requires “tough love.” Once a leader has built trust and demonstrated caring beyond the bottom line or personal gain, employees will appreciate being challenged; indeed, they will embrace it to everyone’s benefit.
Growth: Growth—of the individuals and of the organization— is the culmination of the other values. Employees who are committed to personal growth tend to lead more productive and more fulfilling lives. And they are also the bedrock for their organization’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances and to continue to grow and prosper. These are also the people who are the most promising future leaders for the organization.
Living by these four core values may sound like a simple formula for effective leadership, but it’s not always easy. We’re human, so it takes a high level of discipline and commitment year after year to make this a natural part of the way we operate. Our core values have stood the test of time since Vistage’s founding in 1957. Fortunately, our values test us each and every day as we strive to be actively faithful to them.
Vistage’s values have guided us and served our company and its tens of thousands of members well over the decades. And we face the future with confidence and excitement because we know that as long as we let our values lead us, we will always continue to become better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.
By Andrew B. Wolff, Ph.D., L&D Educational Methods Leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Developing innovative global leaders is one of the hardest, yet most crucial challenges for multinational companies. Organizations need to consider the roles that mobility, coaching, career and succession planning, education, and real-world experience can play in developing their leaders. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has integrated all of these elements in a program called Genesis Park, a global leadership program designed to transform the firm’s top talent into future leaders.
Now celebrating its 10-year anniversary, Genesis Park will take 150 talented, high-achieving individuals from throughout PwC’s global network of firms and bring them together for an intense 10 weeks in one of three sites: Singapore, Boston, or Warsaw.
Genesis Park is about real work, not role-play. It equips participants to meet the real challenges of global leadership. They experience a complex, demanding curriculum that includes: helping participants to develop and hold a point of view on macro-economic and current business issues; exploring the necessary conditions for fostering innovation; and working on projects of strategic importance to PwC. Participants get real-time coaching at every stage of their journey, transforming them into real leaders of the future: authentic, resilient and responsible; able to face future challenges and with a strong understanding of how they’ll lead based on their unique abilities and strengths.
“Genesis Park is not about qualifications for leadership in theory,” says Bethann Brault, managing director of Genesis Park. “It’s designed to equip individuals for the future in very practical ways.”
PwC U.S. CLO Tom Evans notes that Genesis Park’s impact extends beyond the individuals who participate. “One key benefit is that participants bring best practices back to their teams from the real work they have done. Having worked on projects that are of vital importance to the organization and having frequently teamed through intense and challenging situations during the course of work, these future leaders are well-placed to be role models of learning.”
Adds Global Development Leader Richard Pollard, “Genesis Park is an intense and rewarding experience for our key talent, and it represents our continued, significant investment in our people.”
Abha Kumar, Principal in IT & Head of Corp. Systems Integration, Vanguard
In 2010, Vanguard enhanced its learning portal with the launch of social collaboration sites, which included opportunities to share knowledge within communities, post best practices, and use online polling to collect feedback on innovation ideas. Applying best practices for peer-to-peer learning, marketing, and technology helped set the standard for social networking success for the entire company.
The Power of “Crew Think”
In the spirit of enhanced transparency and collaboration, virtual events called “Crew Think” were launched to engage crew in learning about strategic initiatives and provide input opportunities. These virtual events are run in two phases. Crew members submit ideas during the CrewIdeation phase and then rank and vote during the CrewVote phase. Our Chairman and CEO Bill McNabb announced this initiative with the launch of his own blog.
Marketing to Increase Adoption
The first online collaboration site, IT Hub, advertised in unique ways to drive crew to the site by using:
Most importantly the crew creates and alters these collaboration sites daily. While user-generated content brings many benefits to speeding up knowledge transfer, it also challenges the learning organization with managing the volume of content and potential redundancy. Vanguard University partnered with our IT team to create Web portlets that reside on each community page to surface relevant formal and informal learning that already exists in our system. By tagging key words, the communities interface with our learning system, which makes it effortless to scan and append existing learning rather than immediately jumping to creating a new learning piece.