Meet Jack – Jack is 2.5 years old and is one of my greatest teachers in life.
Behind this great teacher (and taker of these photos) is an incredible leader, my wife.
Here is why…
I am one of those nerds that applies business concepts to my family (I also do the reciprocal by applying family concepts to business). One of those applied concepts is the important exercise of establishing and practicing core values.
6 months before we had Jack, my wife entertained me and agreed to establishing our family core values. After many hours of dialogue, this is what we distilled as essential to us:
These core values not only represent what is important to our family, but they serve as guideposts for how we prioritize what’s important to us. For our family, these core values are stated AND practiced.
When I think of a great leader, I think of someone who upholds the core values of the organization through thick and thin. They are the one who ensures the vision of the organization is fueled by its core values. They are the champion that prioritizes the activities or initiatives that best align with its values. They are the great reminder of what is important and why it is important.
Enter my wife… This picture captures an art project that she and Jack worked on. When it was taken, I could hear constant excitement, encouragement, and the reminder of what the art was for. She infused all of our family’s core values into a simple project.
Before beginning the art project, there was a dialogue. It went a little like this.
My wife asked in an excited way, “Should we do something kind for someone?”
Jack said “yes!”.
“Should we make a picture?” She said with increasing excitement.
The level of excitement was matched by Jack, “Yes!”:
“It is fun doing nice things for others, isn’t it?”, She responded: Kindness!
Jack decided to make the picture for somebody. When asked who he wanted to create it for, he said, “Cousins.” Throughout the art project my wife helped him remember why the art was important with phrases like: “Jack, this will mean so much to your cousins.” and “Jack, it is important to let our family know we love them isn’t it?” and “Jack, are you excited for your cousins to open this beautiful gift?”: Family!
Jack was encouraged and given permission to explore all colors, techniques and methods of color distribution across the canvas, even if it meant spilling on the floor or getting it all over himself: Creativity!
Don’t get me wrong, however. Listening from upstairs, this project was not without its share of frustrating moments. In the moments of frustration though, she encouraged a deep breath and to press on: Grit!
After completing the first round of art, she gave Jack the opportunity to make more, to give more, to love more through his art: Generosity!
My wife embodied the leader I hope to be/become. Everything about the activity was masterfully integrated with what we determined was important as a family 3 years ago.
Aligning an organization’s day to day activities with its core values and vision for the future is no small feat. It requires discipline, rigor, and intentionality.
Next time you are getting ready to make a decision, begin an initiative, execute a task or higher a new team member, pull out your organizations Core Values and see how many boxes it checks in terms of alignment. If there aren’t any or very few checked boxes, you have bigger issues beyond meeting a deadline, completing a task, or acquiring another FTE. As leaders of and contributors to a mission bigger than ourselves, there is no time for misalignment. The sooner our thoughts, words, actions and priorities are aligned with our values, the greater the impact we can have as individuals and as an organization. Having alignment brings a renewed purpose to the present moment.
- How are you aligning your activities today?
- Do you know what your core values are and are you regularly rehearsing them?
- Are you having a hard time evaluating if your decisions are aligned with your existing core values?
- Are you ensuring your technology, tools, and processes support your team in the activities that are aligned with your core values?
Each day, every one of us gets the opportunity to ask these questions of ourselves and the organizations we contribute to.
Each day we at Mission Matters Group try to ask these hard questions of the clients we serve. As an organization rooted in purpose, Mission Matters Group’s goal is to build a better world by strengthening nonprofits. This is our duty, our calling, our responsibility to do so.