“Strive not to be a success,
but rather to be of value!”
Our value as a leader, and how others perceive our value, has much to do with how we value value and how those around us do the same .
Value is a measure of relative worth, merit, or importance. Anything can have value to the degree that it has worth, merit, or importance. The same is true for anything to which we can assign a value, whether it is an object, objective , event, or a person, relationship, situation, business deal, food, furniture or whatever. For example, a chair can have a different value for different purposes. A soft, reclining TV chair won’t satisfy most people’s need for a dining room chair and visa-versa.
This article will address three kinds of value: intrinsic, extrinsic, and systemic.
- Intrinsic value is the worth, merit, or importance that is inherent in others and in ourselves. When we view people for their intrinsic value, we see them for who they are rather than what we think they should be or for the functions they perform.
- Intrinsically focused leaders are people-centric leaders. They foster a sense of respect, inclusion, and acceptance in the workplace and are always looking for fresh thinking and new ideas.
- Extrinsic value is worth derived from functionality. Extrinsically focused leaders are more concerned about what people and organizations do. We often consider extrinsic thinking as being very practical about situations. Leaders who emphasize extrinsic values tend to place a high value on the return on investment of people, resources, and ideas. Extrinsically focused leaders will often see the value of people for what they can accomplish rather than for who they are.
- Systemic value is worth delivered by abstract concepts like order and chain of command within an organization. Systemically focused leaders often think organizations and those in them should align with the leader’s ideas, assumptions, judgments and concepts. Often systemic thinkers insist on their view of the world and their ideas regardless of the reality of the situation. These kinds of leaders will push initiatives that sometimes fail because they’re based on limited perspective and founded in what should be rather than what is.
- I worked with a systemic thinking business owner who lost a small fortune because he was unwilling to give up his emotional attachment to a particular thought he had about the viability of a legacy software program. Despite warnings from his CTO, CIO and other division heads to abandon his thinking about the value of his old technology – he blindly pushed forward and poured millions into trying to revise the outdated system before finally giving up and purchasing smarter programming. To this day he still cannot understand why his ideas didn’t work and blames his IT people for the failure.
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get!”
Truly inspiring leaders are those who understand and act in ways that show they value people more than things and concepts. Here are a few questions that may help you understand how and what you value:
- Do you see people as they are or as you expect, want or need them to be?
- Do you recognize your staff for the individual richness of their contributions or for the title, label or functional role you’ve created for them?
- Do your first impressions become fixed or are you open to being surprised by who your people actually are?
- Before taking action, do you discuss your ideas thoroughly with a diverse mix of people and perspectives or only with those with whom you’re comfortable?
- How would you evaluate your capacity to see beyond what is apparent and to explore what that which maybe hidden?
- Do you seek critical feedback from others to help you see beyond your self-limiting beliefs and blind spots.
Don’t kid yourself, what you value is probably clearer to your subordinates than it is to you. Your values speak much more clearly than your words ever will. You may think you are a valuable leader because of what your ideas and your accomplishments say about you. But your people will decide your value by how they think you see them and how they feel about the way you treat them.
The gap between the value you think your leadership is worth and the value others place on your leadership – is a function of what you and they value.