Today is my eleventh wedding anniversary. On the surface, my anniversary has nothing to do with leadership. But, let me take you back approximately thirteen years…
Girl and Boy attend the same graduate school. Girl and Boy only communicate on an “as needed basis.” Girl and Boy are invited to interview out-of-state with the same local government. Girl and Boy are forced to communicate and suddenly realize they share a lot of the same core values. Girl and Boy live happily ever after.
While this is a major summarization of our relationship, the point is that my husband and I share the same core values. Not unlike others, a large number of people in service industries, such as local government, chose a partner who is either also in government or a like service-related industry (education, medical, social services, etc). I believe that is because (generally speaking) service is a core value to those in government and those with a passion to serve look for others to serve with them.
Without the “Girl and Boy forced communication,” my husband and I may not have realized our shared values. In organizations, leaders have many avenues to share the core values with their employees. However, at home, how do we share our core values with our families? (Tweet This)
Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families, suggests that families should develop an operating system that helps communicate their shared values to their children. To define your family’s core values, he lists four questions to ask your family:
- What words best describe our family?
- What is most important to our family?
- What are our strengths as a family?
- What sayings best capture our family?
Just as we discussed last week, when difficulties arise, your core values can guide your organization…and your family. Whether you are a family of one or twenty, traditional or non-traditional, consider gathering those that comprise your family unit and discuss what it means to be your family. Then, further define those answers into family core values. When difficult times arise from the toddler tantrums, complexities of teenagers, or the stress of finances, careers, and marriage, you can turn to your core values to be your guide.
In closing, read through the Feiler Family Core Values – I hope they inspire you to consider leading at home as you do in your organization and develop family core values.
Executive Search Manager
Last week, I challenged you to join me in doing 15 good deeds. This past Sunday was Good Deeds Day, a worldwide movement of 900,000 volunteers in 58 countries who take part in a celebration of “doing good.” Several of you joined me, and I thank you!
Together, we did small things and big things, all of which made a difference in someone else’s life. And for that, we are all better. A few things I know that happened out of #SGRGoodDeeds:
- A meal was pre-paid at a burger joint for a future customer.
- Fresh cookies were left at neighbors’ doors.
- Many attempts at being kinder drivers occurred. A lot of patience and waving, and one more extra car being let in, in traffic took place!
- A Pay-It-Forward chain was started and sustained (in case one car accepted the kind act but didn’t pay it forward) at a coffee shop drive-through known for kindness, called On The Grind Coffee, owned by Mark Parmerlee. Mark and his employees epitomize extraordinary customer service, and they have seen customers take it upon themselves to frequently and spontaneously participate in pay-it-forward chains. Kudos to you, Mark, for inspiring your customers to do good. You make New Braunfels a better place!
- A tip and a sweet note for a hotel maid to have a “beautiful day!”
- Shared a treat and watched a movie on a shared iPad with a seatmate on a flight.
- Picked up a woman’s tab at a restaurant – she had the five most well-behaved children (ages 7 and under) on record, ever, in the history of dining – she deserved that and a medal.
- Chocolate and banana bread delivered to office mates.
- Surprised a friend with coffee.
- Let a man with flowers and a card ahead of me in line to check out at a store. When he declined the offer, I said, “You look like you have somewhere to be.” He smiled and went ahead.
- Promoted and donated to friends’ fundraising efforts for American Heart Association and Walk for Multiple Sclerosis.
- Helped an older woman without her glasses operate the microwave at the hotel.
I hope that, as you do good deeds, you find them to not be cumbersome, expensive, or uncomfortable. I hope that you find them to be quietly gratifying, that they bring you a sense of peace, even. And that they become natural-feeling, part of who you are.
I was raised to act out in kindness to strangers and neighbors by my parents. They’re both educators in the public school system, so serving others is part of their core. Neither has a problem making friends with complete strangers, so I come by it honestly. Courtesy, respect, kindness, and generosity were standards in my family, and was in the family of a classmate of mine, Kliff Kingsbury, whose natural instinct for good deeds made the news recently. He usually makes the news about being the best thing since tortillas for Texas Tech football or looking like Ryan Gosling…
so, I’m happy that he was recognized for doing something more… human. This gentleman was also raised by educators, so I know that he had instilled in him the same things that I did. I knew his mom better than his dad, and she was an amazing woman; we have honored her every year since her death with the Sally M. Kingsbury Sarcoma Research Foundation fundraiser. When I read this article about the man I’ve known since sixth grade helping an elderly woman after a wreck, I said, “Of course he did. His momma raised him right.”
While you and your employees may not have had the benefit of being raised by public servants, you can begin instilling these traits and encouraging these acts now! You’ll make someone’s day, encourage better customer service, even help someone’s life. I challenge you to continue doing good deeds. If you want to encourage others to join you, please continue using the tag when you post #SGRGoodDeeds. Thanks again for joining me. It makes me happy!
As mentioned in previous posts, SGR staff took the time this week to review our core values. SGR’s core values are unique and the team truly strives to use the core values to guide every interaction and decision for the company. The values are:
- Customer Service
- Continuous Improvement
- The Golden Rule
- Protecting Relationships
Core values can be seen as something that is nice to have; however, when difficulties arise, your core values can guide your organization.
This week, a University of Oklahoma fraternity created a video where students were heard chanting racial slurs that refer to the African American community and vowing to never admit them to Sigma Alpha Epsilon. The video demonstrates repulsive behavior and thought.
When researching this topic, I found the following core values for the University of Oklahoma:
Fairly quickly after the controversy broke, University of Oklahoma’s President David Boren issued the following statement:
To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you. You are disgraceful. You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves “Sooners.” Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots. Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity. Real Sooners treat all people with respect. Real Sooners love each other and take care of each other like family members.
Effective immediately, all ties and affiliations between this University and the local SAE chapter are hereby severed. I direct that the house be closed and that members will remove their personal belongings from the house by midnight tomorrow. Those needing to make special arrangements for possessions shall contact the Dean of Students.
All of us will redouble our efforts to create the strongest sense of family and community. We vow that we will be an example to the entire country of how to deal with this issue. There must be zero tolerance for racism everywhere in our nation.
Impressively direct, President Boren outlined his disgrace for the situation, a remedy, and a long-term solution for correcting the problem in the community. The detailed description for OU’s Integrity core value is: We do the right things for the right reasons. President Boren did that this week.
The University of Oklahoma quickly responded to the crisis that the viral video created. Hopefully, they will also follow-through with the long-term goal of instilling these values throughout their community so that the behaviors exhibited in the video do not occur in the first place.
When you find yourself leading in a time that your core values are challenged – let the values be your guide. (Tweet This) Do the right things for the right reasons.
Executive Search Manager
This week, I’ve really been pondering the idea of authenticity. To be honest, this is a topic I often ponder. My generation has definitely had its struggles with authenticity. I come from a generation that was continually praised—I call us the “special snowflake generation”—but authenticity was rarely encouraged as a goal in life for many of us, though my generation desperately yearns for it. Is it even attainable in this day and age, with the pressures we feel pulling us continually in the direction of inauthenticity?
In existentialist philosophy, authenticity is the extent to which we are true to our personalities, character, and values, despite external pressures. When we act in inauthentic ways, when we disown our values, these actions are said to be made in bad faith and we engage in self-deception to rationalize them (please look into the work of Jean-Paul Sartre for more on bad faith). The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says this about authenticity:
Authenticity thus indicates a certain kind of integrity—not that of a pre-given whole, an identity waiting to be discovered, but that of a project to which I can either commit myself (and thus “become” what it entails) or else simply occupy for a time, inauthentically drifting in and out of various affairs.
Simply defined, inauthenticity is being fake, disingenuous, or what my generation often calls “a poseur.” As I’ve grown older and witnessed the ends of relationships, professional and personal, inauthenticity has taken on an even deeper significance for me because I’ve seen the damage it can do. It is often detrimental to relationships because it demonstrates a lack of self-awareness and hinders trust-building efforts. You can’t trust someone if they lack sincerity and you can’t trust yourself if you aren’t being true to your own values.
Authenticity and integrity are inextricably linked. Nowhere is the struggle for integrity more real for most of us than in our jobs. This can lead to moral dilemmas and dissatisfaction because we feel that we must choose between integrity/authenticity and financial security. It can be difficult to know how to act in a situation like this. Do we opt for financial survival or do we risk our security to do what we feel is the morally right thing to do?
This week at SGR, we’ve spent some time together discussing what authenticity means for us as an organization and how it helps us build and maintain relationships, not just with our customers, but with each other, as a team. Integrity is one of SGR’s core values, an asset that should not be sacrificed for any reason whatsoever, even if the very survival of the business is at risk. But what does this mean, in real life, when put into practice?
It means that you don’t always take the easiest path. It means that you sometimes make decisions (sometimes difficult ones) that go against the crowd. It means that you consider the greater good in all that you do. It means that you know there is a difference between disowning your values to follow the crowd and growing real relationships that change you for the better.
One of SGR’s Core values is philanthropy. In today’s hard-edged business world, it sounds a bit corny to talk about love, but the reality at SGR is that we have a serious commitment to walking the talk of our personal faith. We believe our faith is the most important part of who we are, and that it is most meaningfully conveyed in our actions and how we treat other people. SGR team members are encouraged to give back to the community through volunteerism and simply doing good. This Sunday is Good Deeds Day, a worldwide movement of 900,000 volunteers in 58 countries who will take part in a celebration of doing good. I challenge you to join me in doing 15 good deeds between now and March 15!
Good deeds, random or planned acts of kindness, big things, small things, can change the world – and can change you!
In a study published a few years ago in the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers in Great Britain had 86 participants take a survey measuring life satisfaction before and after participating in a 10-day exercise. One group was instructed to perform a daily act of kindness for the next 10 days. Another group was also told to do something new each day over those 10 days. A third group received no instructions. The groups that practiced kindness and engaged in novel acts both experienced a significant – and roughly equal – boost in happiness; the third group didn’t get any happier. The findings suggest that good deeds do in fact make people feel good, even when performed over as little as 10 days, and there may be particular benefits to varying our acts of kindness, as novelty seems linked to happiness as well.
There are a number of good things you can do for others for little or no cost. Here is a short list of ideas!
- Smile at a stranger.
- Leave a note or small gift on your neighbor’s door.
- Be a kind driver – let someone out in traffic ahead of you.
- Leave change in a vending machine for someone else to find.
- Visit a loved one in a hospital or nursing home – and then stop in a few extra rooms (with permission of course!) and be sweet to others.
- Send cards to servicemen and servicewomen deployed away from their families.
- Send a friend flowers unexpectedly.
- Volunteer for a couple of hours at a charity.
- Start a Pay-It-Forward chain at a coffee shop or fast food drive-through.
There are many more ideas out on the internet that can help you get started. Again, I challenge you to join me in doing 15 good deeds between now and March 15. That’s 3 good deeds per day between now and then! As you do your good deeds, tweet, post, and share them and tag them with #SGRGoodDeeds.