Authentic Leadership calls for first line managers to demonstrate their commitment to core values in their everyday work. Doing so has a salutary impact on their own work engagement by deepening their commitment to those ideals. Doing so also provides a model of values in action to team members. It shows that these lofty words have real meaning in the practical context where they work. Living your values is a critical part of leadership.
But it’s not enough.
People do learn through observation, but it only goes so far. A lot more happens through dialogue.
First, engaging people in conversation deepens their connection with the team. Sharing ideas builds connections among people. Listening is an essential tool for first line managers. But to listen, they have to get something going. That is leaders don’t simply wait for members to strike up a conversation; they actively initiate dialogue.
Second, personal goals and aspirations are compelling. Without an active and ongoing connection with the organization, its values take a back seat. The most effective way of connecting employees with the organization is through conversation. The abstract concepts of the mission and the large scale scope of an organization’s work lack a personal punch. Conversations trump proclamations.
An example from a CREW group:
When asked for an example of incivility within her team, a nurse said that colleagues who took an unnecessary sick day showed disrespect for colleagues who had to carry the load. This statement prompted dialogue on nurses’ skepticism about a hospital initiative to reduce absences. During that conversation, attendance shifted from being a labor/management issue to a means of showing respect to colleagues.