A Leader is Their Values
Thoughts on Leadership—Part 1 of 4
Despite what conventional wisdom tells us, I believe leadership is something you can learn. And not only that: it’s something you can practice. When I think about how to develop leadership, and how I’ve grown and developed as a leader over the last 20 years, I break it down into two key actions:
1. Live through your personal values at home and at work
2. Become the culture you represent
Every leader leads differently, but all great leaders lead through a set of core personal values that they embody in every aspect of their lives. If they don’t, their leadership is eroded: those who follow them (employees, friends, mentees), will see them as inauthentic and will begin to question their conviction in many aspects of life—and especially in business.
One of our values at Jobsity is ‘don’t be cheap’ But as we all know: the best isn’t cheap. Recently, I was tasked with replacing the technology our employees were using. When I looked at the pricing, however, I did pause. However, I knew what my values were, and I knew that if I didn’t stand by them and live through them, it would create conflict for my workers—especially if the less expensive technology started to cause problems down the line. (Those of us who work in tech know: better quality almost always translates to better performance!) In the end, the computer I wanted to use at home, was the best computer for my team, no questions asked.
You can’t be one way at home and another at your company. You should treat your wife, kids, parents, employees, and friends according to the same set of values. Your values.
This treatment becomes your leadership.
Take my friend D, for instance. He’s a talented and successful dentist. But when we were younger, he was also a talented and successful partier. He lived to drink, to go out, to be reckless, and to bring that wild and fun energy to any evening on the town. Today, when he veers into this party-going recklessness at social events, it doesn’t take long for us all to ask ourselves: do I really want his drill cutting into my teeth?
His social behavior erodes his professional credibility. His values at home clash with his values at work.
If values are your leadership, consistency is their currency in the world.
It doesn’t happen overnight.
Values change and evolve. As long as you are evolving, growing, learning, that’s OK. But to do so as a leader in business, you have to be purposeful in your study and practice. And then you have to change the way you act. Ask yourself: what are the values you want to embody? Then seek out opportunities to immerse yourself in these values—at home, at work, in life.
Your daily actions will become your leadership.
An example: at Jobsity, our target market is the US. All our clients are based in the US. When I was doing my MBA in New York, I realized in order to be successful in the US, I had to become part of the culture. My culture had to become that culture; I had to understand the intrinsic values of American society, to make friends that were local and to make sure they were real friends. I had to work and behave in the ethics of the culture; and I had to understand the difference between a funny joke and a lame joke. In other words, I had to laugh when things were funny, and I had to laugh for real. I actually had to belong. Which is easier said than done!
But if you think it’s important for you and your family, then it’s important for your company. It can’t be an act. If you want people to follow you, then there’s only one way to go: be the person worth being followed. Learn it. Live it. Breathe it. Lead.
Stay tune soon for my next installment, when I’ll look at learning from mentors versus consultants, and what it means for your leadership.
Andrés Garzón is the CEO of Jobsity, a nearshore staff augmentation firm based in the United States, Ecuador and Colombia. Founded in 2007, Jobsity was selected in 2017 as an Endeavor fellow. With a focus on agencies and product companies, Jobsity’s clients have included NBC, GroupOn, Walgreens, etc.