I’m not talking about the ‘eagle view’, big picture question of what do you believe. There have been plenty of blogs, articles, and books written on that one. No, I’m talking about on a daily, moment by moment basis, what do you believe? Have you ever thought about it? If so, have you ever thought about why you hold that belief?
Most people will tell you what they believe, then you’ll watch their actions and see no connection between what they say they believe and what their actions say they believe. As a leader, this isn’t a mistake we can afford to make. We must do the work to understand ourselves, know our beliefs, then choose our behaviors to reflect those beliefs.
If we don’t gain this self-awareness, we can’t be surprised when our team doesn’t follow.
The clarity of purpose is essential in maximizing our impact.
Why Should We Care? Our actions are the direct result of our beliefs. We act in accordance with what we believe - whether we express the belief verbally or not. Of course, anyone can hide it for a little while but eventually the two always align. Therein lies the problem.
Most people, teams, companies are smart enough to pick values and standards that look great on the wall or sound good in the meeting room. And oftentimes, the values selected are virtues and noble when put into action. But, if that action fails to come, now we have a serious problem. Not only are we confusing our team, but we’re driving away our best people.
The best people in any organization know who they are and they know why they choose to work, or do, what they do. That’s right, you aren’t choosing them. They’re choosing you. And they aren’t choosing cultures that don’t line up.
In order for a culture to align, the value, the belief, and the behavior must match. This is rare and is precisely what makes elite teams.
Regardless of your food preference, most people understand this example:
McDonald’s Mission Statement (https://www.comparably.com/companies/mcdonalds/mission) McDonald's brand mission is to be our customers' favorite place and way to eat and drink. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which center on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion.
Of course the quality of the food matters, just as the talent on your team matters, but it’s the alignment between what Chick-fil-A says they believe and their actions that makes them elite - not their chicken sandwich.
REAL TALK - Action Steps So, the question then becomes how do we align our values, beliefs, and actions so we can attract, and keep, the best people while working to help our team reach its potential. There is a process, unfortunately it’s not an easy one. Time, effort, and consistent maintenance will be required.
The steps below are applicable to your company, your team, or just you - and equally important to each.
Core Values → Behaviors → Beliefs
You first need to identify your core values, behaviors and beliefs. What is important to you? Who do you aspire to be? What actions/behaviors in others is admirable? Do you have any ‘words to live by’? This can only be done by spending considerable time reflecting and considering what is truly important to you. Talking through it with a good listener can provide great insight as well.
The Habit Loop
In order to break our routine of just doing what you’ve always done, you will need to form new habits to be sure your actions are lining up with your desired values. This is a challenging step and can easily ruin all the work you put into finding your values, behaviors, and beliefs. Establishing routines around the same time of day, setting reminders on your phone, and prioritizing your commitment to your behaviors is essential.
How are you rewarding aligned behavior and addressing behavior that doesn’t align? That question applies to the individual as well as the team. The standard is the one you walk by … if it doesn’t get addressed, then that’s the new standard.
So back to the original question, what is it that you believe? If you’ve done the work to know yourself, then you have an answer. If not, you’ll make something up that sounds good and was really what one of your parents or mentors believed.
Do your actions express that belief? Now that’s a great question. Excellence is rooted in the alignment of our beliefs and actions.