The purpose-centric and purpose-driven vision makes the biggest impact. Unless a leader’s vision is solidly supported by values, no complex, profound or fancy vision will reach the minds and hearts of the team. Nor will it inspire action. It’s all about your ‘why,’ your greater purpose. This is where your personal values enter the discussion.
In times of crisis, we discover the true character of the leader. This is true in times of war and tragedy. When there is fear, where there is peril or doubt, the strong leader steps up. Leaders must possess clear and positive values that are aligned with those of their organization. Only then can they rise to ‘walk their talk.’ Leaders must stand for something in order to achieve greatness. Whether you're selling gifts for men or insurance service, it still holds true. If we look at game-changing leaders throughout history and across genres, we find one common theme. These leaders had conviction rooted in something they strongly believed to be important. And they held firm in their beliefs – even when people doubted or mocked them. The leader with strong personal values, which align with those of the organization, becomes a pillar of purpose. It’s this pillar that keeps the teams together through good times and bad.
Bill Hewlett and David Packard proved the immense power of values when they founded Hewlett Packard (HP). Their vision statement went like this:
“Our vision is to create technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere – every person, every organization and every community around the globe. This motivates us – inspires us – to do what we do. To make what we make. To invent and to reinvent. To engineer experiences that amaze. We won’t stop pushing ahead, because you won’t stop pushing ahead. You’re reinventing how you work. How you play. How you live. With our technology, you’ll reinvent your world. This is our calling. This is a new HP. Keep reinventing.”
‘The HP Way’ was thus born. The HP Way wasn’t conceived as a business plan. Its big goal was not about the destination. Rather, it represented the personal core values of Bill Hewlett and David Packard. These values became the heart and soul of the company and the spirit is evident in their shared personal beliefs:
- First: the passion to make a technical contribution
- Second: the demand of superior performance – of itself as an organization and of its people
- Third: the belief that the best results come with the right people
- Fourth: the responsibility to contribute to the wellbeing of the communities in which they operate
- Fifth: integrity
The HP Way envisioned ‘contribution’ as the cornerstone of the company’s existence. The critical question was “What can we contribute?” rather than “How can we succeed?” But the expectation was always that of stellar performance. And perhaps a core reason for their success was the belief that building a high-performing team begins with the notion, “First who, then what.” It’s interesting that Jim Collins in Good to Great identified this common characteristic among the long list of leading companies that he and his team investigated. It was that these companies were driven by leaders who put a high priority on getting the right people on the bus and creating an environment where these team members could thrive and achieve. In the process, high performance became the new normal.