Published: 29th December 2021
E-Canteen Fundas: Learning to chalk out team values to achieve #LeadershipGoals
As a leader, ensure that your team values are not only well established, clearly stated, communicated, but also demonstrated through the actions of every member of the team
‘We looked at the Why of leadership last week, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘We set our team’s vision and have a common purpose. But our team’s behaviour is scattered and not the most efficient in terms of achieving our purpose. I don’t know what to do.’
‘True,’ said Rahul. ‘Everyone has their own ideas and it's getting in each other’s way.’
‘It’s time to discuss the How of leadership,’ said Rakesh. ‘How to get our team members aligned so they behave in a manner that’s best for the team, that shows what the team stands for.’
‘How do we do that, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku.
‘First, we must establish team values,’ said Rakesh. ‘These are simply what the team values most. For example, some teams value winning at any cost, while some teams value fair play more than winning. You, as the leader, must carefully facilitate establishing team values that become the rules of engagement for the team. Every member of the team must abide by these team values. For example, if your team values punctuality and your star player arrives late, you can drop her as its behaviour that is violating what the team values.’
‘How do we establish team values, bhaiyya?’ asked Rinku excitedly.
‘Take us as an example,’ said Rakesh. ‘As a group of three, we can form our own set of values and our rules of engagement. Instead of pushing one’s values onto others, in which case they may not follow them, it’s best to discuss and arrive at our team values together. So, let’s discuss, what values mean the most to you? What values should our group adopt to grow to our full potential and achieve our purpose of learning and growing?’
‘Pursuit of excellence, growth mindset, openness, helping one another, trust…,’ said Rahul.
‘Honesty, fun, respect, discipline, teamwork, communication…’ said Rinku.
‘Great,’ said Rakesh. ‘For ease of remembering and practicing, let’s whittle our list of values to four. First, merge values that are similar. For example, helping one another, trust, openness and teamwork can be merged into teamwork. Then, let’s rank our values in order of importance and arrive at our top four values as a group.’
After discussion, Rinku declared, ‘The four values we as a group value are — 1. Growth mindset behaviour, 2. Pursuit of excellence, 3. Fun and 4. Trust.’
‘How do these values help us lead our team better, bhaiyya?’ asked Rahul. ‘They’re just words.’
‘Good question,’ said Rakesh. ‘Most teams stop after stating their values in words, which is only the starting point. But having decided what we value most, we must demonstrate our values through our behaviour. Any ideas on how we can demonstrate our values through our behaviours?’
‘Hmm,’ said Rinku. ‘A Learning Mindset can be demonstrated by asking for help, asking questions, listening to others and engaging in discussions. Pursuit of Excellence can be shown by setting high standards in all that we do, small or big, and not compromising easily.’
‘Trust can be demonstrated via openness, initiating tough discussions, being vulnerable and sharing openly,’ said Rahul. ‘And we can demonstrate fun by being creative, making our processes more engaging and finding ways to enjoy and do better work.’
‘But bhaiyya, there’s a chance that these values can be interpreted differently by each person, right?’ asked Rinku. ‘How can we convey them correctly?’
‘True,’ said Rakesh. ‘Because we know what they mean, we can practice them. But let’s say we are a five hundred strong organisation, then our values become meaningless words to others. One way to convey the correct interpretation of our values is to collect and share stories when the right behaviours have been demonstrated. Most times, the right values are subtle but impactful — a smile, a word or a quiet act — that may not be seen or recognised, as opposed to acts with zero or negative impact. For example, if giving honest feedback is a value, it can be used sensitively and thoughtfully to get the right outcome or it can be used brutally to destroy the opportunity, individual or the team. So, build and share stories so that the entire team can practice the right values and move forward purposefully.’
‘That’s wonderful, bhaiyya,’ said Rinku. ‘Lots to take away.’
‘Yes,’ said Rakesh. ‘That’s how teams build cultures. Once a culture is built, it strengthens the team through behaviours that are aligned and in sync. It saves a lot of time and energy and achieves outcomes efficiently. Our values become the foundation, the common ground we share from where the team can grow. That’s how good leaders take care and establish the team values.’
Pro Tip: As a leader, ensure that your team values are not only well established, clearly stated, communicated, but also demonstrated through the actions of every member of the team. Good values lead to solid cultures.