We’ve all heard that people don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad bosses. Supervisors—those who have been elevated to positions of leadership within our workplaces—have an outsized impact on culture and employee engagement, yet a 2017 study revealed that only a third (35%) of employees feel inspired by their boss.1 At Rising Sun Consultants, our proprietary 10 Keys of Effective Supervision™ program offers the tools supervisors need to help employees thrive. This training, mentoring, and advisory platform helps supervisors at all levels advance their leadership skills and improve their proficiency in employee management strategies. In this edition of the newsletter, we’ll hone in on one of the keys of supervision: valuing what you believe.
by Ray Chung
Though some leaders seem to love it, I have an uneasy relationship with the spotlight. I am acutely aware of the dangers of ego and pride, which have been the undoing of so many individuals—not just prominent heads of companies, churches, or ministries but even friends and fellow community members. To combat the gravitational pull toward pride in my own life, I strive to model servant leadership: the foundation of our approach at Rising Sun Consultants. Yet I have occupied enough leadership roles and worked with enough leaders to know that, whether or not they are actively pursuing “influence” or “platform,” leaders are never truly out of the spotlight—because our teams are always watching.
I’ve worked with leaders who seem mystified, frustrated, even irritated when their corporate culture doesn’t align with the aspirational values they’ve laid out. Whenever I encounter this particular complaint, I start by holding up a mirror to the leadership team. Everyone has a role to play in contributing to a thriving workplace culture, but leaders must take the first step. To see changes in workplace culture, leaders must start by living the values they want others to emulate, walking the walk not just talking the talk. Patrick Lencioni writes in The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business that leaders who don’t embody their organization’s espoused core values “invite accusations of hypocrisy” from their teams. And this is true not only in the workplace but beyond it.
I’ve long advocated that our workplace cultures will be richer when we embrace the unique perspectives and contributions of individuals with varying backgrounds. So how, then, in my personal and professional life am I elevating diverse voices? When broken systems disadvantage minorities, how am I advocating for justice, even if it isn’t convenient or popular? How do I amplify the perspectives of those who have different backgrounds than my own? How do I, as a father, respond when my children, who are of mixed Asian and American heritage, experience discrimination and prejudice? How do I ensure my son and daughters embrace both their Asian cultural roots and their American identity with pride and without shame, feeling equally at ease to enjoy dumplings, sushi, and baozi or peanut butter whoopie pies, BBQ pulled pork, and Kraft mac ‘n cheese?
The way I live, more than words on paper or workshops I promote, determines whether a value like diversity, kindness, or generosity is truly a corporate value or merely lipservice. Our values should be visionary, but they must be more than aspirational (or they invite accusations of hypocrisy). Clarifying workplace values should be less about hoops to jump through and boxes to check and more about inviting people into a lifestyle that we already model. If we hope to create a ripple effect at the organizational or community level, any corporate value must first be true of us. Even with the occasional stumble, may it be true of us that we walk the walk rather than simply talking the talk.
How we live and who we are must align with our stated values as leaders. An organization’s culture and its leaders’ values are intricately, inextricably interwoven. A leader is always in the spotlight. What do we do with what it reveals?
Take the first step toward creating a thriving workplace culture when you learn more about the 10 Keys of Effective Supervision here. The core principles of the program are outlined in a book co-authored by Rising Sun’s founders, and we’re delighted to offer a free copy to the first 10 people who tell us they’d like one! Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
Jim & Ray
At Rising Sun Consultants, we have 19 years of experience helping leaders align their stated and practiced values, helping workplaces create thriving cultures, and helping organizations maintain and preserve their core through succession and transition. It would be our joy to partner with you!
1 William Arruda, “What Employees Really Think About Their Bosses,” Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamarruda/2017/12/12/what-employees-really-think-about-their-boss/?sh=7dd6bcada1ec