The Lone Ranger Rides

  1. August 6th, 2013  | 

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Published in Leadership

In 1933, thanks to the modern-day marvel of radio, the Lone Ranger rode into our lives.

The Masked Man and Tonto are still alive and well 80 years later as the new film from Disney proves.

You probably recall the show’s premise: Six Texas Rangers are ambushed by outlaws, and all are killed but one. The surviving – or, Lone Ranger – is discovered by Tonto, who nurses the Ranger back to health. Tonto fashions a black mask to conceal the Lone Ranger’s identity. Even after the gang that ambushed the Rangers is brought to justice, the Lone Ranger and Tonto continue to fight for law and order and against evil and crime, with the Lone Ranger riding his white stallion Silver, and Tonto riding his paint horse Scout.

It’s unclear whether radio station WXYZ owner George W. Trendle or the show’s writer Fran Stiker created the masked man, but both get the credit.

The Lone Ranger’s Creed

Together, Trendle and Stiker developed a “creed” that served as the framework for the Lone Ranger’s behavior and a guideline for the show’s plots.

The creed reads:

I believe:

  • that to have a friend, a man must be one.
  • that all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
  • that God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
  • in being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
  • that a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
  • that ‘this government of the people, by the people, and for the people’ shall live always.
  • that men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
  • that sooner or later..somewhere..somehow..we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
  • that all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
  • in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

This is an inspiring set of beliefs.

You have them, too. You call them “core values,” “guiding principles” or “organizational beliefs.” There’s just one problem.

The Greatest Paradox

It’s a safe bet that – in most cases – the values you say you believe in and the words in your values statement that you’re so proud of are not being lived out inside your organization.

Over the past five years, I’ve collected data from more than 3,000 CEOs and key executives in the U.S., Canada and the UK. A whopping 70% of the respondents said “our values are clearly defined and communicated.” What’s more, these leaders say “we do what’s right for our customers, employees, suppliers and investors..even when it’s difficult to do so.” So far so good.

But when asked specific questions, it’s clear the good intentions executives say exist inside their organizations are not being practiced.

For example, 58% “strongly agree” or “agree” that “accountability isn’t just top-down; everyone knows they are accountable to each other.” And only about one in two leaders (56%) say “our values are easy to understand and simple to remember.” The numbers drop even more – to fewer than one in three people (27%) who “strongly agree” or “agree” – when asked to rate the following behavior in their organization: “we consistently meet our objectives within specified timeframes with no follow-up required.”

“Integrity,” “respect” and “honesty” are the trifecta of values. I see and hear these words from the hundreds of leaders I meet, speak to and work with month after month.

But in many cases, they’re cheap words.

The greatest paradox in business is that the things we say we value – treating others how we want to be treated, quality, innovation, integrity, and even accountability – we don’t treat as valuable. We say one thing and do another.

Our actions are the outward expression of our character. It’s who we really are.

The behavior you’re seeing – however that behavior shows up – is the default culture of your organization. Your culture mirrors your character.

When the words you say matter – your values – are out of whack with your actions, accountability in your workplace will be an uphill battle.

Free Exercise

I’m currently writing a book on accountability, and I’ve included in the book dozens of questions and exercises.

One of these exercises can be used to help codify your values. It was inspired by my friend and fellow Vistage International Chair John Younker, who developed years ago an exercise he calls “A Walk on the Beach.”

My version ratchets that exercise up a notch. It’s called “Heaven and Hell,” and you can download it for free.
Your posse of Rangers is ready to ride.

They’re trusting your character. They’re looking to you for leadership.

Hi-ho Silver! Away!

About the Author: Greg Bustin advises some of the world’s most admired companies and leaders, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of companies in a range of industries. He’s facilitated more than 250 strategic planning sessions, he’s delivered more than 600 keynotes and workshops on every continent except Antarctica, and he coaches leaders who are inspired to take their career to the next level. His fourth leadership book— Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture (McGraw-Hill) —is a Soundview Executive Best Business Book.

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