August 6th, 2013 |
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
To dive even deeper into the topic of accountability, I invite you to purchase a copy of my bestselling book, “Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture.”
Business schools teach case studies. Hollywood blockbusters are inspired by true events.
Exceptional leaders are students of history. Decision-making comes with the territory.