Leadership : Character-based Leadership: 3 Steps to Win the Battle for the Soul of Your Organization

Joseph Krivickas is a technology industry CEO who has been involved in leading organizations through many different phases of value, mission and strategic-vision development which resulted in: the raising of venture financing; an initial public offering; and the sale of two publicly traded companies. 


Joseph holds a BS in Electronics Engineering from the University of Scranton and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. He can be contacted at kazz-krivickas@usa.net



Character-based Leadership:


3 Steps to Win the Battle for the Soul of Your Organization


Would you believe me if I told you that some of the most successful CEOs I meet are more concerned about the character of their companies than their financial results?   They believe the daily tests of their organization’s character – what their team does when no one is looking - are battles for the very soul of their company.  For these character-based leaders, an organization with a healthy moral core – or soul - is the ultimate competitive advantage. 


If you are a leader in a business, a community association or even a little league baseball team, a big part of your legacy will be revealed in the soul of the groups you lead.  You are making a lasting impact in the lives of people.  You have been entrusted with a big responsibility.


So, how can you win the battle for the soul of your organization?   I have observed that character-based leaders follow three steps.



Step 1:  Display Your Value System Like a Wheel, not a List


Many leaders write their organizational values in a list like this: 


·     People First

·     Customers 

·     Quality

·     Make money

·     Etc.


The problem with a list is that it is hierarchical – it implies a ranking in which some things are more important than others.  It is difficult to find balance in lists.  Rather than a list, your organizational values should look like a wheel with each value as a spoke.  A smoothly functioning wheel has balanced spokes. 


Everyday your team will encounter situations that will test your group values.  Some days the terrain for these tests will be smooth.  Some days the terrain for these tests will be rugged. You want your team to be able to adjust and adapt quickly – to find balance – so their actions can always represent your group values.


Character-based leaders know that what their organizations do when no one is watching is a window into the group’s “soul.”  So, the first step in winning the battle for the soul of your organization is displaying your value system like a wheel, not a list.



Step 2:  Form Your Mission as the Wheel’s Hub


Your group exists for a purpose.  A mission.


One of the biggest fears your team members have is that they might be part of something that is meaningless.  To lead effectively, you will need to specifically identify your group’s meaning, its mission. In the form of a statement, your mission sits at the “hub of your wheel.”  An ideal mission statement conforms to the following simple guidelines:


·     It is not more than one sentence long.


·     An eighth grader can get it.


·     Under pressure, everyone will be able to recite it.


Your organization will encounter daily battles that, when added together, test its ability to survive.  To grow and thrive, it will need to have endurance.  Endurance will develop when your group believes their work is contributing to something meaningful.


Character-based leaders give their team members a strong sense of meaningfulness in their work by forming a clear, easy to understand and memorable mission and making it the hub of all of their organization’s actions.



Step 3:  Strategic-vision Starts and Ends with an Honest Look in the Mirror


As the spokes of the “organization wheel” are values and the “hub” is its mission, strategic-vision is the direction you want your “wheel” to be heading in.  Your team members have a lot of fires to put out each day.  So, you will be the one who needs to spend as much time as needed to make sure your organization is heading in the right direction. 


Strategic-vision is all about “what”:


·     What is your organization today? 


·     What do you want your organization to become? 


The answers to these two questions help form your strategic objectives.


Character-based leaders take an honest look in the mirror at what their organization is doing when no one is watching.  On a daily basis, they check and re-check to make sure their strategic-vision is not only producing their desired strategic objectives, but also supports their mission and values.



Measure Character One Day at a Time


If you think the only way to be a good leader is by focusing on achieving great results – think again. 


Character-based leaders are winning the battle for the soul of their organizations.  With daily vigilance, they: display their value systems like wheels not lists; form their mission as the wheel’s hub; and, take honest looks in the mirror about strategic-vision. 


You can lead your team toward the achievement of great results by using these three steps to measure its character, one day at a time



Copyright 2006 by Joseph K. Krivickas


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