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  • Todd Nordstrom

Why Great Leaders Hold True to Their Values, Even When They're Challenged


Sometimes the concept of right and wrong falls into a gray area at work.

I'm not talking about anything illegal or immoral necessarily, but instead those instances that just don't align with your own personal values. You know the instances. They may not be wrong, but they make you feel--there may not be a better way to describe it--icky inside.

I've been surprised over the past couple of years by how many people have approached me with concerns about being asked to do things at work that have made them uncomfortable--either by their managers, by vendors, and even by customers.

People have told me they've been asked to lie, play favorites, and spread rumors. Just recently, a friend called and told me they were asked to "pretend you don't know the full truth" about a situation with a vendor. While most of these 'icky moments' might feel unimportant, they can challenge our own ethics and values.

Aligning Your Values With Your Behavior

Amy Robnik Joob, author of the newly released book Model Behavior: Make Your Career Path Your Calling, is no stranger to having her values challenged at work. Joob, a professional model, worked for decades in an industry that has, over time, generated plenty of unwanted attention for controversy.

"Scandals always get media attention," Joob told me. "But, it's also just a business like any other. There are great people. And, there are people who choose to do questionable things. The path you choose is up to the individual."

Call them values, a sense of morality, or spirituality, Joob said, "We all have our own sense of right and wrong. We all make choices. We all feel pressure--in any industry. But when you're asked to do something that challenges who you are, you're basically being asked if you're willing to become someone, or something, you don't want to be."

In Joob's book, she shares stories about how her values and spirituality not only inspired her modeling career, but also guided her decisions. "When you have guiding principles, it's easy to make decisions," she told me. "Throughout the years, there were jobs I really wanted, but I just didn't feel right about them. I remember someone at a job telling me my chances of getting the job would improve if I removed my wedding ring. That didn't feel right. Again, maybe it wouldn't have been a big deal, but why would I compromise my own values?"

She's right. Sometimes those seemingly small compromises don't feel like a big deal. But over time many small sacrifices can lead to enormous change.

Knowing Yourself, Your Standards, and Your Challenges

Throughout the years, other thought leaders have shared similar stories with me about how they've remained true to their values.

Nely Galan, Media Mogul, Business Owner and Author of Self Made once told me. "Don't rely on other people, or companies, or society to give you permission to be yourself. You are the only owner of your life."

Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust once told me, "Trust yourself first. Trust accelerates relationships, performance, and results. But, if you're willing to bend on your own values, it's extremely difficult to trust anyone."

And, Erica Reid, author of Shut Up and Cook once told me, "Choices are like food--they can be medicine or poison. Compromising on values is like eating something that will make you sick. The difference is that the human body is pretty good at healing sickness. Character doesn't heal as quickly."

Small, or Big, You Need to Know Where to Draw the Line

It's not uncommon to have our own sense of right and wrong tested on a daily basis--in life, and at work. Even small, seemingly unimportant, choices can be difficult--especially if we believe our job is on the line, or a deal hangs on our decision. And that's where this final piece of advice from Amy Robnik Joob might make all of our decisions a little bit easier.

"I always looked at my modeling career as if I was selling three aspects of myself--my appearance, my professionalism, and my personality," said Joob. "Those three things were my product. But, my values, ethics, and spirituality were never for sale."

That's something everyone should keep in mind no matter where they work.

Business, leadership, and life advice can come from numerous places, and from countless voices. The irony is that the best advice often comes from the places we might least expect it--from our own gut feelings, and the values that make us who we are.

Courtesy : Inc.

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