In the book, The CEO Test, which executive “aced the exam”? I would vote for Jeff Lawson, the CEO of Twilio, a cloud communications platform company. Why? Lawson allows for very little daylight between Twilio’s espoused values and how the company actual operates. Here is how Lawson pulls off that feat:
First, the company’s values were formulated based on broad input from current employees, not just as an exercise controlled by the c-suite.
Second, those values are carried forward to future employees by being front and center during the hiring and onboarding processes. The “invention” question above is but one example, given the goal of ensuring every employee likewise has a “builder mentality,” which is one of Twilio’s core values.
Third, quarterly and annual employee awards, as well as all promotions, involve honoring employees who embody the company’s values. The converse is that violating those values is cause for the firing of even high-performing “culture felons.”
Adam Bryant is managing director of Merryck & Co, a leadership development and mentoring firm. Before that gig, Bryant was a journalist for 30 years, including at the New York Times where he authored the “Corner Office” column. In addition, he’s a frequent contributor on CNBC.
Like a three-car pile-up on a freeway, consider these statistics: two-thirds of all business mergers fail; under 30% of executives think their company manages its culture well; and only 10% of HR leaders would go that far. Walking the talk doesn’t work. Who needs to hear more about a company’s “values” or “mission statement”? Trying to instill behaviors based on high-minded rhetoric isn’t nearly enough. Instead, a company’s basic operating system requires change if progress is to be made. That move means changing the habits and routines—the practices—that both drive and reflect the company’s true culture. What is also needed? Executives must ditch overconfidence in favor of psychological flexibility, the competency Israeli thought leader Yuval Harari has called the single most important passport to success in the 21stcentury.
David G. White, Jr. is cognitive anthropologist working with organizations on culture, change, and leadership issues. He’s the co-founder of Ontos Global, a boutique consulting firm. David previously held leadership roles at Microsoft, Mercer, and IBM; and is also a professional jazz musician with 7 CDs.
From David Bowie to Tupac Shakur and others, songs about CHANGES abound. More prosaically, however, change proves hard to pull off. Since individual behavior changes must also happen for larger, company-wide initiatives to succeed, let’s turn the focus to individual change. Sustained personal change depends on tapping into deep-seated, inner motivations, which brings us to a person’s values system.
Forget hackneyed corporate vision statements. What’s your own vision statement? If you had to choose, what five values might you select as most important to you? And if you created a bucket list of things you want to accomplish, personally and professionally, what 12 items might be on that list and why? In other words, how might those items or goals reflect your values and help you change and develop as a person, closer toward what you consider your ideal self?
Van Oosten is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and the Faculty Director of Executive Education at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. She is also the Director of the university’s Coaching Research Lab. This episode investigates not only what one wants to do in life, but also what one wants to be? To sustain change, be positive. Hunt for gold, not dirt, Oosten writes, and identify heroes from various stages of your life in order to help focus your dreams.