In a detailed study by McKinsey they concluded that executive leaders, CEO’s, are responsible for controlling an organisations most significant moves and may well account for at least 45 per cent of performance. Backing oneself towards this endeavour is easier when the required decision-making and execution is value aligned.
Deep dive studies such as this reaffirms lessons history repeatedly teaches. Regardless whether it’s ancient Roman Emperors, dictators or liberators, we consistently see leaders aligned with their values, good or bad, have a track record of gaining some initial level of success and cut through. The question of sustainability and longevity with that success is also then symbiotically tied to a deeper, more important, level of ethics. Namely, being aligned with ones values simultaneously ensuring them to be morally sound and virtuous!
Why your values impact organisational success
The McKinsey study is an interesting one given its scope in source data: mining information over 25 years, from almost 8000 CEO’s and 3500 public companies across 70 countries and 24 industries: resulting in identifying 6 primary elements, totalling 18 collective primary responsibilities, as a sort of playbook for success focus.
When I additionally apply the lens from my own field, people and human behaviour, the correlation between comfort ability and alignment with ones values then acting on these responsibilities more effectively also becomes clear.
Successful relations with external stakeholders include the ability to consider social purpose, the big picture and ignite moments of truth. All of which flow far easier when you don’t feel obliged to pretend or fake it, or when you do feel compelled to make a stand!
If you’re promoting forward thinking agendas, a specific trait highlighted as a part of board engagement, your ideas will generally be communicated far more powerfully when the vision is one you truly believe in rather than a stand alone strategy of intended results alone.
In highlighting the importance of things like organisational alignment or teams and processes the concept of matching talent to value is specifically called out.
Perhaps the most obvious correlation in the McKinsey findings fell in the arena of personal working norms. The ideal leadership model identified being one of authenticity. Knowing ones values means removing ones masks, making a stand or turning up confidently with drive. Authenticity, being aligned with ones values, becomes not only a force of habit but stands you apart as a business force of nature.
Even the final element, corporate strategy, identified the ability to make bold moves early. Any pressure, fears or risks fall off the shoulders when the moves you’re planning and making are aligned with ones core. Every entrepreneur or leader grounded in reality also knows the future is not necessarily guaranteed. Curiously enough it was also highlighted that just three in five senior execs, C-suite, live up to the expectations placed on them within their first 18 months on the job. I’m not necessarily a betting man but I’d take a wager the chances of being amongst those three are increased when you know who you are and are willing to back yourself. Even then, if things don’t go quite to plan, I’d double down and wager again the odds favouring ones resilience, ability to sleep better at night, or just plain adaptability, are increased for those aligned with their vales and comfortable in their own skin.
Classic value wisdom
There are even similar clues amongst the quintessential list of qualities of leadership, often cited, created by Napoleon Hill: circa 1937. Rule number one on that list being leadership based on unwavering courage: knowledge and confidence, if you will, of ones self and ones occupation.
The ability to display definiteness in decision making is also include. People are less inclined to follow or buy into leaders or individuals that flip flop. Same-same, you don’t need to be a CEO for these rules to apply! When you think about your own world, when faced with tough decisions the ones we drive forward with confidently are the ones that both align with and hum or sing along to the tunes being hummed by the values in your own soul.
If you read a lot, as I do, then some of these lessons may even sound or feel familiar. That success somehow serendipitously comes to those that live aligned with who they are as a person. It’s said after all that one of three essential maxims, a rule of conduct to live by, inscribed on the forecourt of the ancient Greek temples of Delphi, around 1500 BCE, was ‘know thyself!’ If that’s not a suggestion that fulfilment in life doesn’t’ come living aligned with ones values then I’m not sure what is.