Leadership 101

Three Steps to Making Respect as Important as Results

Is your work culture healthy? Do people treat each other with respect while pursuing the results needed?

Most leaders have never been asked to proactively manage the quality of their work culture. They don’t know how. In fact, very few have ever experienced a successful culture refinement, much less been the driver of one.

Leaders need direction and coaching to begin creating a foundation of a vibrant work environment. They come to me to help them create a specific statement of their desired culture in the form of an organizational constitution.

Their organizational constitution consists of the company’s servant purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals.

The challenge is that defining your desired culture and announcing your organizational constitution doesn’t mean everyone – or anyone – will embrace those new practices.

Defining your desired culture is the easy part! Aligning all plans, decisions, and actions in every interaction is the hard part.

These three key steps come after the publication of your servant purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals. These steps are the foundation of aligning all players to your organizational constitution.

Step 1: Awareness

Simply publishing your organizational constitution doesn’t mean everyone will follow those clear guidelines. Players won’t embrace these new rules unless all leaders model them, coach them, praise them, and communicate them – every day. This step is about consistent communication.

I ask senior leaders and executive teams to answer these questions at least monthly:

  • How are company values and behaviors being communicated across the entire organization?
  • How well are values and behaviors understood by every leader and employee?
  • What more needs to be done to reach 100% awareness in the office and in the field?

 Clients use a number of activities to boost awareness, including:

  • A monthly electronic newsletter that covers performance to date as well as celebrates values alignment stories, customer successes, and more.
  • A “company TV network” (usually a YouTube channel) of videos featuring leaders and team members describing how the servant purpose comes to life every day, how values and behaviors boost sanity, productivity, and fun (and reduce drama and conflict), financial updates, customer interviews, etc.
  • Texts to all team members celebrating individual team members’ great service examples, great internal service, etc., all driven by the company’s servant purpose, values and behaviors.

Step 2. Alignment

Alignment is where the culture refinement gains traction – or where it disappears like many “flavor of the month” initiatives.

One of the most important  ways to build alignment is for every leader to model, coach, praise, and communicate your servant purpose, and values and behaviors.

Sustained alignment only occurs when all leaders hold themselves and every team member accountable for the demonstration of your values and behaviors – every day.

I ask senior leaders and executive teams to answer these questions at least monthly:

  • How are values & behaviors being used:
    • In hiring?
    • In coaching of existing leaders?
    • In coaching of existing team members?
  • What is the degree to which valued behaviors are being modeled by everyone across the organization? What more needs to be done to reach 100% alignment, every day?
  • How are you recognizing valued behavior demonstration throughout the organization?

The emphasis in this step is accountability – ensuring that every leader and team member models your servant purpose, values and behaviors in every interaction.

Step 3: Assessment

This step is vital. Just as you measure traction on results, you must measure traction on respect.

This step is an extension of the alignment step. It can be viewed as an overlap of the alignment step! And, it is important enough to deserves its own heading, because  it takes time, energy, and sustained commitment to measure values alignment, provide feedback to leaders, and coach them to accountability for results and respect , on an ongoing basis.

I coach executive teams to do a formal values survey at least twice a year. The format is simple. The questions are derived from your valued behaviors (for example, “I do what I say I will do”). Team members then rate their direct bosses on a six-point scale (from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”) for each behavior.

Every leader gets a personalized profile that shows team member ratings of their values alignment. Where leaders are seen as modeling the company’s valued behaviors, they are praised; where leaders are seen as NOT modeling the company’s valued behaviors, they are coached to alignment.

A custom values survey provides undeniable data of values alignment – for better or worse.

These three steps can help your desired culture come to fruition. It’s hard work – but you’re going to be there anyway, right?


For nearly three decades, S. Chris Edmonds has helped senior leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures.

He is a speaker, author, executive consultant, and founder of The Purposeful Culture Group Purposeful Culture Group | S. Chris Edmonds. He’s one of Inc. Magazine’s 100 Top Leadership Speakers The Top 100 Leadership Speakers for 2018 | Inc.com, Richtopia’s Top 200 Influential Authors Top 200 Most Influential Authors 2018 (Power List),  and was a featured presenter at South by Southwest  Driving Results Through Culture|SXSW 2015 Event Schedule.

Chris is the author of the Amazon best seller The Culture Engine The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace: S. Chris Edmonds: 9781118947326: Amazon.com: Books and five other books. He tweets on organizational culture, servant leadership, and workplace inspiration at @scedmonds S. Chris Edmonds (@scedmonds) | Twitter.

Chris’ crisp, rich Culture Leadership Charge video episodes can be found on YouTube S. Chris Edmonds – YouTube and on iTunes Driving Results Through Culture by S. Chris Edmonds on Apple Podcasts.

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