Oh that pesky gap between what we say we believe in and what we do. Its frustrates all of us, whether a corporation or a church, a group or an individual. How can we be so blind? Of course, it’s easy to see the gap in publicized scandals like Enron or in a public individual like Ted Haggard. But closer to home? That’s a different story.
For example, take the communications company which advertises having “the best, fastest, most complete communication solutions on the market,” yet whose departments are so “siloed” (isolated from each other) that support never speaks to sales about an installation procedure glitch, resulting in a 4 week backlog in customer repairs. Or look at a church that insists that love is its hallmark but insists that people come to them instead of themselves going out into the community. These are value/behavior gaps. And often, we’re blind to these gaps until a disaster makes them clear to everyone.
And yet, are we really blind? Isn’t there a nagging feeling that somehow we are not living up to the values we originally embraced? It seems like there is a war going on between doing what is comfortable and living value-able lives. Enter the leader.
A good leader has an over-all perspective of the organization, a grasp on what’s happening each day, and the alignment of people’s behavior and the stated values of the group. Let’s use the examples above, beginning with the communications company. A good leader looks not only at the 4 week backlog but examines the culture of the company to find out why the departments are so “siloed.” Are people reprimanded for bring bad news to management’s attention? Is there “bad blood” between department supervisors? Are people so focused on their own small piece of the company it just doesn’t occur to them to talk to someone? How can the organization change its approach to “hoarded” information? These are the starting questions that might ultimately lead to radical change for the whole group.
Or take the pastor of a church which prides itself on love. A good leader would go beyond starting a food pantry for the needy, although that may be a good step. The people in the congregation need to see that the mission of the church is not about sharing God’s love with themselves but about transforming the world with that love. So a good leader/pastor begins to preach on the Great Commission, the justice-minded Prophets, Jesus’ action with the poor and outcast, reinforcing to everyone the purpose of the church. The pastor goes to the different leadership boards and asks if there is an “outreach component” to their ministry. If not, then how is that ministry contributing to the mission of the church? This in turn starts conversations about Godly values and how to more consistently integrate them into life.
In both examples a good leader realizes the necessity of people adopting new attitudes resulting in new behaviors. The gap between values and behavior is the workplace of leadership.