We all have beliefs. We believe there’s an ideal way for employees to work. We believe in what we believe about how leaders should lead, and work. We even believe certain things about who we are at the office versus home and how things should run when we’re in either environment. But, here’s the real question. Does what a leader believes have any business being in the building, shared with the team, or being enforced when leading? Does what a leader believes even belong in the building? When posing such a bold yes or no question, perhaps it’s best to simply look at both answers. Yet, unlike many simplistic questions, this one isn’t. Beliefs, like leaders, are complex and while the answers are monosyllabic, both deserve a bit more information.
It is challenging at best to separate what one believes from the person. Leaders lead from a place that involves their believes, or at a minimum, a less intensely expressed version of them. What is being asked in this question of leader beliefs could be interpreted as does a leader express them at the office? Thus, enter the issues of corporate or organizational culture, what one’s boss finds acceptable, and what might be offensive. Beliefs that lean toward the positive and show character, integrity, grit, or even values are often not limited and considered positive. Beliefs about religion, politics, or sex, (all the things we were often raised not to discuss in public) are typically considered off-limits and not appropriate for work conversations. But here’s the conflict. Is a leader who values his or her religion and is not harming anyone else, but chooses not to attend a meeting because of what he or she values, is that wrong at the office? That depends on how you look at it. When considering whether or not to brings your beliefs to the building, here are three questions to consider: What is your number 1 priority? Does what you believe align with the organizational culture where you’ve chosen to lead? Are your beliefs relevant to you or your employee’s work performance?
If the answer to the last two questions mentioned is No or Not really, then those beliefs may not belong in the building. A leader who believes strongly believes arriving late daily is a best practice may find him or herself on the outside of the building sooner rather than later. A leader who believes without question that Christmas décor, celebrations, gifts, or discussion, is off limits in her department may find herself on the outs with many of her team members. Neither of these belief systems are deal breakers when it comes to how one lives one’s personal life, but leadership is different. In leadership, you have the privilege and responsibility of developing, guiding, shaping, molding, and focusing on the skills, attributes and performance of others. The key word in that sentence being others. If in your leadership, you find your beliefs to be in such strong conflict with the team you lead or the place in which you’ve chosen to lead, it may be time for some significant decisions. However, in the interim, it is often best if your beliefs that are in conflict, or that may hinder your privilege and responsibility of being other focused are not brought into, nor expressed in the building.
Beliefs are tricky. They are personal, they are important, and they are often long term and a part of our character. Beliefs drive what we do and how we lead, far too often unconsciously, but leadership is not an auto-pilot activity. Consider the questions at the end of the Yes answer section and clarify for yourself which beliefs are critical and which ones on which you’re willing to compromise. A leader who has gained this type of clarity will find themselves in less binds and backed into less corners in which the toughest decisions faced are those between a choice to go after what we thought we wanted and what we truly believe is most important.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist and professional speaker. Her coaching, books, and skill based training programs are requested internationally. Monica is the CEO of www.ContagiousCompanies.com and a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. She may be reached at 1-866-382-0121. To learn more about the CORE Profile® or to complete the abbreviated, free, CORE Snapshot™, follow this link.