Last month, I started a series of themes of the week based on a book I had been reading at the time by John Maxwell and Rob Hoskins called, Change Your World.
This week we talk about Chapter 5 – “Experience the Value of Values.” This is one of my favorite chapters in the book. For years I have written and spoken about the importance of being intentional about developing values in teams and then living by those values. This chapter focuses on that very concept.
Maxwell and Hoskins start by saying that “Vision and mission are the head and the heart of people. Values are their soul.” I love that!
We have a vision for our life, and that comes from our head. We then figure out what our mission(s) is in life, and that is where our heart lies. But our values make up our soul, who we are as a person.
They go on to say:
Two things are responsible for making leadership rise. The first is competence. The second is values. Values are your principles that guide your decisions and behaviors. When those values are good, they bring only benefits—never harm—to yourself and others. When leaders have good values, which are reflected in their behaviors, people are willing to trust and to follow them. Good values allow leaders and everyone else to help others.
If you are going to lead people, you must be competent. You must know how to do what needs to be done, and you must be able to do it. Competence is a critical component to getting people to trust you as their leader.
But you must also have good values. People will not follow other people who do not have good values. In fact, they will quickly remove themselves from any organization whose leaders do not have good values. They know that those leaders cannot be trusted to do the right thing and behave with integrity.
They end that section with the line, “If we want to change our world, we can’t just climb the ladder of success. We need to climb the ladder of good values.” Absolutely!
The Value of Good Values
This next section is one of the most powerful sections in the chapter. I found the first part to be especially insightful for those of us who coach sports teams, but I imagine the lesson in it will apply to any of you who lead any type of team.
Maxwell & Hoskins say:
I think most people would agree that good values are important, but at the same time they’d rather move on to discuss strategy for changing the world. It’s almost as though they take values for granted, assuming that people will learn and embrace good values on their own. But being has to precede doing if you want to change your world.
I have seen this for my entire coaching career. Heck, I lived this for the first part of my coaching career. I think most coaches do the same.
We spend so much of our time focused on strategies, techniques, skills, drills, and opponents. While those are important things to know and prepare for, here is the problem: We tend to take for granted the concept of our teams having, displaying, and living by good values. Like Maxwell & Hoskins said above, “It’s almost as though they take values for granted, assuming that people will learn and embrace good values on their own.”
But everything in a good team experience starts and ends with values. If you don’t have players and coaches committed to all of the values that you feel are important to your program having the success and significance you seek, it doesn’t matter what strategies, techniques, skills, and drills you have. You won’t become the best team you are capable of becoming.
Most coaches will put more time into what kind of uniforms they want to order than into intentionally creating their culture by establishing, working on, and living the core values they want their team and program to be known for.
Is that you?
Do you spend more time on the Whats and Hows of your team than on your Why?
If so, it’s time to change that. It’s time to change your focus and priorities. When you change those, you begin to Change Your World.
Good Values Make Positive Change Possible
Once again, I love this section of the chapter. In here, Maxwell & Hoskins focus on a word that I focus on in one of the presentations that I do for Proactive Coaching called, Life Lessons for Athletes.
The word is Choice.
In that presentation, we redefine the term athlete in behavioral characteristics/values. We talk about things like Selflessness, Discipline, & Mental Toughness.
Every one of the values that we talk about is a choice that kids can decide to make or not make to become the best athlete they can become. They require no special talents, strength, or natural ability. They just require you to choose to do them.
That means every single team member in your program/team/company can do them.
Maxwell & Hoskins say, “No matter where or when you were born, no matter how much or how little talent or intelligence you possess, no matter the circumstances of your upbringing, you can learn, embrace, and practice good values. It’s your choice.”
They then list about twenty values, much like the three I mentioned above and the rest of them that we discuss in our presentation.
They say, “Each value is attainable if you choose to work on it. Regardless of your education, intelligence, gifting or skills, you can live any or all of those values. You can choose to do it. Choice is the difference-maker when it comes to values. Choosing makes change possible.”
If you want to become the best you’re capable of becoming, you must make the right choices to live with the values necessary to do so.
Good Values Always Value People
Maxwell & Hoskins begin this section with a question: “How do you know whether a value is good?”
The answer? “There’s one standard that it must meet. It must value people—all people, all of the time, in all situations…. If the value values people, then it is positive and worth embracing.”
I love this concept because it focuses on others and providing value for others as opposed to just myself. It also focuses on ALL people.
Too often, coaches focus on the better players, and the less-skilled bench and role players do not feel valued.
But if you are truly going to create the best team experience possible, and if you really want to change your world, you must value every single person on your team, not just the talented ones who produce more.
Good Values are Better Lived than Spoken
This is another one of my favorite sections because the focus is on Action. Establishing values, saying they are important to you, discussing them and working on them, but then not living them means that you are wasting your and everybody else’s time and energy on something that ultimately doesn’t matter to you.
Maxwell & Hoskins say:
For leadership to be good and lasting, it must be preceded by good living. Good living comes from good values. If there’s a disconnect between what you say is important and what you do, then teaching values is worthless…. The actions we take are what give us credibility…. When our words are backed up with consistency in our actions, we gain credibility. As nineteenth-century writer Wallace Wattles said, “The world needs demonstration more than instruction.” There is no substitute for making values our own and living them out every day of our lives.
I have seen time and time again teams that say they are about certain values, have those values posted on a wall somewhere or on stationery or a website, only to then watch them in action and see them not living by their values. In fact, I sometimes see them going completely against the values they say they are all about.
A couple of classics that I have seen this happen with are work habits and team-first attitudes. I have seen so many teams that say they are about one or both of these values, only to see them be a team that doesn’t work very hard and be a team where selfishness abounds and does not appear to be addressed by the leadership.
In many ways, it is worse to say you have standards and values that you don’t live by than it is to not even establish them at all because you are actually living a lie, a lie that you created by saying you are all about something that you actually are not and that you aren’t even working toward becoming.
Good Values Make You More Valuable
Maxwell & Hoskins start this final section with the question, “Can you think of any situation where good values would not be an asset?”
They respond by saying, “Good values always add value to us. And they make us more valuable to others. You can work with someone whose skills are weak if their values are good. You can train someone who is inexperienced as long as they value growth. You can trust someone who makes mistakes if the person is honest. But when good values are absent in someone, working with them becomes very difficult.”
I love the following statement by management consultant Richard Barrett: “Organisational transformation begins with the personal transformation of the leaders. Organisations don’t transform; people do!”
Maxwell & Hoskins finish off the chapter by saying, “As soon as you’re living and modeling good values, you’ll be able to help others to do the same. That, more than anything else, will bring the lasting change you want to see in your world.”
I couldn’t agree more. Focus on establishing, discussing, working on, and living great values within your organizations, and watch your team soar to new heights, maybe even heights unimaginable for you before.
Yes—the things you do and how you do them are important. But without a solid foundation of good values, you will always be vulnerable to strong winds that will blow the whole thing down.
Strengthen your team by strengthening the values that your team lives by.
Next week, we will move to how you do that through the power of what Maxwell and Hoskins call, “Transformation Tables.”