I had a meeting with my management team today. My goals were to keep us focused upon our mission and values as we created our business plan for 2011. Our conversations took a pleasant unexpected turn as we discussed the precise meanings of our organizational values. The subtle differences in individual interpretation left room for slight confusion and hesitation. Confusion and hesitation of leaders does not contribute to excellence. We took the opportunity to clarify critical key words necessary to ensure a collective leadership standard.
Key words are critical for precision, speed, connection, and elan in an organization; each team has special words which create feelings, actions, and standards. A meaning of a road march is different for a Army Ranger than a Boy Scout troop leader. A crisis to my teen ages boys is different than a crisis in an operating room. My wife and I have different understandings of being late. These differences are normal and expected. But if precision is crucial for success, leaders must define key words for their team.
Today our leadership added texture to our values to increase collective understanding and accountability. To our leaders, Integrity means doing what you say, Excellence means being in the top 1% of our industry. Innovation means finding a better way. For our team, the fine tuning was critical if we were to meet our commitments to lead, model, and teach our values to our team on consistent basis.
Think about your team - could you create key words which would help your team better understand how to think and act? Look for patterns of communication breakdowns, consistently unmet expectations, or organizational frustrations. Get your key leaders together and talk to each other - create key words which will eliminate confusion and accelerate consistent results.