core values“Men hate to take orders from women. That is what created the problem between you and your male employee.” An old friend emailed this response to my last post, The Power of Sharing Your Core Values.

Last week, I embarrassingly told the story of learning to live my values rather than be a bossy boss. My friend had provided a provocative response. My “girl power” reflex was to instinctively say, “Yes, could be so.” But I caught myself. The answer that comes from my truth and my values is not yes. It is this:

No one wants to be managed.

Male or female, people want to be led.

I have stood in front of many rooms and asked this question: “By a show of hands, who would like to be managed?” NO ONE, not man or woman raises a hand to say, “Yes, manage me.” “Yes, boss me around.” “Yes, tell me what to do.”

Admittedly they may want help, feedback or training, but not what is commonly called, management. Do you?

Almost everyone wants to be led by someone with virtuous core values. The caveat is that they must know and trust the values of their leader. That requires leaders to know and be accountable to their core values. Either we are not congruent with our core values or other unintended values become prevalent.

Here is a question for you: Do you know and articulate your core values? And another question: Do you illustrate those values in a way that others can trust?

Here are two exercises that you can do to start the process of being a trustworthy, values-based leader.

 1. List your three or four, one word, core values.

  • Remember, as reported last week this is not as easy as it looks. You may trip over your parents’ values or your expectations of yourself. It is also easy to mistake activities for values. So answer this: What values make your life worth living? What values will you NEVER cross short of your child’s life?
  • If you aren’t sure, try this: Take aside two people you know and tell them a story about a time that you had to make a choice in your life. Be sure to tell the details and why you made the choice you did. Don’t think too hard; just tell the story like you would over a cup of coffee. (You can actually tell the story over a cup of coffee.) Then have them tell the story back to you. When you hear someone else telling your story it will illuminate it in such a way that new things will be revealed to you. You may still discuss and struggle with the true core values in your story, but between the three of you, you will unearth the values that are core to you.

2. At your next staff, team, or organizational meeting, open your meeting by reporting your core values and ask the group if they were aware of those values. A few things could happen:

1. Yup. They know that about you. No news. You consistently live your values.

2. Nope. They are dumbfounded that you even brought this to the meeting and look at you kinda scared because those values aren’t at all the you that they know. You aren’t living your values.

3. Some shade of grey illustrates that you aren’t great at communicating this information and /or being consistent with it. Ask yourself: Is it a lack of clarity about what the values are? Do you fail to communicate them? Or do you have difficulty living them? Don’t be shy of asking the group for the answer. What you can’t see, others do see. Besides, vulnerability is a remarkable value and worth trying.

I honestly don’t believe that my story is a male/female issue. I do believe that bad management happens between men and women in all combinations. But if we are living our values, we can create safe, creative and effective teams, tribes and organizations.


Ruth Schwartz

Ruth Schwartz is the author of "The Key to the Golden Handcuffs". She is a high performance business consultant and leadership coach. Connect with Ruth to participate in the conversation. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube .