Can you lead by other people’s values?

I am really looking forward to reading Joel Manby’s book, “Love Works”, as I think it will give some interesting insight into his leadership style and practices.  Plus, how often do leaders in the amusement industry write books like this.  Double whammy!

My bigger question, though, is how many people will try to apply all of the values that Joel discusses?

Here’s why I am asking… this is not the first, nor will it be the last, leadership book centered around a successful leaders’ tactics. In and of itself, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  Like I said I am looking forward to reading it to see what makes Joel tick.  Where I believe there is a misstep is someone other than Joel trying to apply these values exactly as Joel does.

One of the principles that Joel discusses is using love in the workplace.  Not love the emotion, but love the verb.  Either way, I am sure there are people out there who:

  • Think this is a crazy notion and want no part of it
  • Think this is a crazy notion, but might just want to try it
  • Think it’s a good thought but have no idea how to actually do it
  • Already do this and see Joel’s perspective simply as reinforcement

Like Jan and Peter Brady, it’s the two in the middle I think we need to look out for. This is because they have the potential to adapt a value system that they really don’t believe in.  If it worked for Joel, it can work for everyone, right?  Not so much.

Values are funny things. They are developed over a lifetime and are not something we usually change on a whim. I’ve seen it over and over again where a very well intentioned leader will read a book and decide that they are going to adapt everything in that book to their business.  This ends up as a “flavor of the month” initiative that eventually fades away, just like the last one.

Think about how your personal values were formed.  Over many years, you have seen situations where you either say, “that’s good, we should keep doing that,” or ” that’s bad, we should stop.”  This eventually carved out what you feel is right and wrong, and where the gray area is.  Since everyone has experienced a different set of circumstances, each person has a slightly different value system.  And that’s okay.

Please don’t mistake my message as, “don’t read books (or blogs) and try to learn from them.”  To the contrary, I encourage you to learn as much as you can about others to see how they apply their values.  Then use the application, rather than the actual value, as your inspiration to move forward.

What are your values?  Are they different than the values of your company?

Thanks for reading!

About the author: Matt Heller values the value of valuable values. Or something like that.

2 thoughts on “Can you lead by other people’s values?

  1. Love what you have said and how you have said it. My values once identified become the foundations for every decision and response I make in life. This consequently leads me closer to achieving all I want to be, how I am known and ultimately how content I am with my life. The great leaders I have been privileged to know how all have strong foundations based on uncompromising values that they stay true to.

    • Thanks, Shaun! You make a great point about your values really shaping everything you are and what you want to be. That’s why I don’t think people can adopt the values of someone else… they would no longer be true to who they really are.

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