“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” —Roy E. Disney
I thought I would share a little part of a chapter I just finished about Values, hoping it will enrich your leadership journey.
As I visited with President George W. Bush many years ago, he said: “It is not just what we have; it is what we do with what we have that makes the difference.” At the time he was talking about the United States of America. I took this personally and it became one of my mantras.
What are you doing with your values? Do they just hang on the wall, lettered and displayed as a quaint saying, or are they etched in your heart and influencing every decision you make? Decisions are at the very intersection of our values, whether they are big or small. They are of even greater significance when viewed on the greater scale of the corporate, financial, and military settings of the high-profile leaders in my book.
Many years ago one of the leaders I had the honor to interview, Admiral Raquel Bono, a surgeon who is now in charge of the medical facilities for the Armed Forces in the U.S., was faced with having to operate on a soldier in the middle of combat with missiles all around her. She said to herself: “How do they expect me to operate under these circumstances?” Immediately she went back to her purpose and values and realized her purpose was to inspire others and save lives. She proceeded with the operation and saved that soldier’s life… yes, in the middle of combat.
Decision-making is indeed complex and multi-faceted in many instances, but it really is simple when you see it through the lens of your core values. Though Disney’s statement above may oversimplify the process of making decisions in a highly complex corporate, military or government environment where leaders face significant and potentially life-changing decisions, the heart of his statement rings true as seen in the Admiral’s example above.
When we navigate from a place of values, the process of decision-making becomes straightforward. This is what I call “Congruency.” Where our actions are aligned with our espoused values. Since leader’s decisions from all walks of life could potentially impact hundreds or thousands of people, this is critically important. It is imperative that leaders’ decision-making strategy is sound. Just as a leader’s character, values and purpose form the foundation for trust, growth, inspiration and accountability which are necessary ingredients for generational growth. As long as we are centered on our values and purpose, our decisions will always be right.