A couple of weeks ago my daughter was teaching me how to make a chocolate soufflé. She is amazing in the kitchen – and I am barely functional. As part of my soufflé training, she was explaining to me why you put cream of tartar in the mix instead of baking soda. Apparently cream of tartar is an acidic salt that acts as a stabilizer in recipes which require egg whites – like meringues and soufflés. It keeps the protein, water, and air in the egg whites properly bonded so that the soufflé doesn’t collapse in baking.
In short, cream of tartar makes the soufflé strong and secure – less likely to collapse under pressure. And there is no substitute ingredient that produces the same result.
This started me thinking about leadership. What makes strong, secure leaders who are less likely to collapse under pressure? Values. And there is no substitute.
When I interview people, they tell me they want to know the values of the company. But perhaps there is a question behind that question: “I am contemplating working for you, and I would like to understand the top three values that are evident in the way you lead…”
What would you say to that question?
At Popeyes, we ask our leaders to examine their values and choose three specific ones that they want to live out in the workplace. We use a pack of value cards purchased from the John Maxwell Company.
In this exercise, the leader first selects ten values from the thirty-four cards. Then we ask them to narrow down to just three values which they want to live out in the workplace. We ask them to list these top priority values on their purpose statement and share them with their team. Some folks tell me this is the first time they’ve ever really thought about the specific values they want to demonstrate in their leadership.
What would your followers say – could they name your top workplace values?
A value is often something so deeply a part of you that your team already knows it. For example, I value learning. I am an avid reader on the topic of leadership, often reading multiple books at a time, and always sharing what I am learning with my team. If you asked them if I value learning, they would laugh and say, “See all those books on my desk? She gave them all to me!”
Some values are less easy to spot in the leader. For example, integrity. Integrity means you want to be known for doing what you say you will do. You want to avoid actions that would be incongruent with what you believe. Integrity may not be evident on a particular day – but over time your team will know if it is important to you. For as the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.”
This I know for sure – your team is watching your leadership and looking for your values. Over time, they will see them in your actions.
I encourage you to make a conscious decision to know and live your values. Values will strengthen your leadership and make you more secure in difficult circumstances.
A strong and secure leader. Just like the soufflé in the oven.
With your top priority values in hand, continue in your Journey to Personal Purpose and begin to shape an approach to leadership that motivates you and makes you more effective in leading your team. The Journey to Personal Purpose is available in the free resource section of my website, Serving Performs.