Organization & Leadership Consulting

Values, Voice, and Vision — What They Cost You and What Others Gain, Part 1

If you want to develop leaders, it will cost you something. When done well, it will cost a lot. If you are willing to “consider the cost”, read on for a glimpse at just a few of the expenses that await you.

But wait! A more accurate perspective on this ‘cost’ thing is to view it as an investment. Leadership development, done well, reaps more than it sows. While an investment may initially feel like an expense, it immediately elevates another’s interests and eventually elevates yours. A rising tide raises all boats.

A Value is not a Value Unless it Costs You Something

The Cost: Organizations and individuals often list their core values; those ideas and principles according to which they claim to make decisions and take action. Many values are aspirational — we are not quite there yet. If the effort put forth in getting there is genuine and costly, then an actual core belief may be “We value learning and improvement”. 

Living out a core value costs a leader time, energy, resources, and possibly some relationship and reputational hits…but those are beneficial in the long run. Authentically lived-out values also cost a leader a wider set of options and opportunities.

The Gain: Well-articulated and lived-out values provide others with a sense of clarity and security. They help build anticipation for what can be. They increase the leader’s and group’s influence within broader arenas of people. Clarity about core values draws the “right” people in while helping you avoid wasting your time, energy, and resources on those who won’t or can’t contribute congruently to your cause.

A Strong, Clear Voice is Heard Through the Noise and Offers a Choice

The Cost: A leader with a clear, consistent, and strong “voice” often has a strong following. For the cause the leader is championing, that is a good thing. For some individual leaders, however, depending on their temperaments, wiring, and life circumstances, a clear, consistent voice also results in loss. This may include a loss of anonymity; some people do not want the attention, they simply want to do the job well.

It may include the loss of an externally conflict-free existence; not everyone will agree, some will actively resist, and being in front makes for an easy target. It may also include the loss of an internally conflict-free existence; leaders influence change and along with that comes an intensified awareness of the difference between current and desired realities. That tension is important but costly.

The Gain: Those who choose to follow a leader with a strong, clear voice, gain a more secure sense of affiliation and identity. This often leads to…

(As the title of this blog indicates, this is Part 1 of 2. We will pick up where we left off in the next blog and carry on with a few thoughts on what Vision costs a leader relative to what others gain. See you in the next blog.)

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