Living Our Values
At The Ohio State University Medical Center, Leadership is defined as “we live in alignment with our values and are thoughtful about how we influence others as we develop and deliver personalized health care.” Notice this definition doesn’t say anything about “supervising” or “managing” others. Those are tasks, not a value or quality.
When you look at leadership as a set of qualities, not tasks, it is something everyone is capable of, whether it’s in a formal or informal role. Think about the people you work with: Who does everyone look up to, or go to for advice? Who sets the tone? Those are the leaders, the people who influence others. Ideally, those in formal leadership positions serve this function, but most likely some of the people who came to mind don't serve a formal leadership role.
Here are some tips to help you strengthen your leadership skills:
- Identify important leadership qualities. Think about the strong leaders you’ve experienced, both at work and outside of work. List the qualities that made them strong leaders, and why you appreciate those behaviors. Think about the not-so-strong leaders you’ve experienced, and list the qualities that hindered their leadership; you can learn just as much, if not more, from negative experiences as positive ones.
- Model our values. Others are always watching our actions, whether or not we are aware. Consistently demonstrating our values not only increases your results, it serves as a model for others, especially when you think no one is watching. For each of Ohio State’s values, identify several ways you can model those behaviors in your role. Think about who you come into contact with, and how you can encourage them to demonstrate the same behaviors.
- Practice your leadership skills. Identify the situations in which you can practice your leadership skills, both at work and outside of work. Think about your formal leadership role and the informal leadership roles you play at work. Outside of work, think about your involvement in community or professional organizations.
In addition, there are four principles that position formal leaders for success at Ohio State. Formal leaders can strengthen their leadership role by focusing on these areas, which are being built into the university's leadership development curriculum. If you aren't a formal leader, focusing on these principles now positions you for future leadership roles. The leadershop principles include:
- Understand and utilize your strengths as well as the strengths of others. Everyone contributes to the organization in a unique way. Understand your strengths and capitalize on them to maximize individual results and contribute to the success of the group. Also, help others leverage their strengths to elevate team success.
- Develop and convey a strong sense of purpose that aligns your work with the goals of the larger university. Everyone plays a role in achieving the goals of the university. Making the connection between your daily work and the goals of your college or unit ensures you are focusing on the right activities. Helping others make that connection with their work is motivational, and helps everyone focus on the collective goals.
- Provide leadership for engaging employees effectively to take responsibility for creating a positive work environment. Healthy, productive relationships enable collaboration, and facilitate getting the work done. Some ways to build strong relationships with colleagues include thinking about how you can most effectively communicate based on each other's behavioral styles and listening for understanding.
- Create relationships that impact individuals and groups positively. Think about how you help shape the experience for your colleagues. By casting a positive shadow, you help create a positive atmosphere, and encourage others to do the same.
- The Leadership Challenge, by Kouzes and Posner
- Enlightened Power: How Women are Transforming the Practice of Leadership, by Coughlin, Wingard, Hollihan (Eds.)
- Leadership in the Age of Complexity: From Hero to Host, by Margaret Wheatley with Debbie Frieze ©2010
Published in Resurgence Magazine, Winter 2011
Image: © 2004-2011 Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, LLC. All rights reserved.