This week I was confronted by a staff member who basically stated that the core values of our IS department which we so proudly display and talk about in almost every meeting were not being walked out in our department. Frustrated that we talk so much about our core values of Honesty, Transparency, Unity, and Integrity, yet when the hard conversations needed to be had, from her perspective, those core values went out the window. As I was reading Bill’s recent post “Not An App For That,” I began to reflect on how important it is for the individual to model the values set forth. No poster on the wall, fancy PowerPoint or SuperApp is going to make people act in accordance with these core values.
Throughout my graduate studies, professors would remind us at the beginning of each course about the honesty and ethics policies that we were submitting to as students of the university. Not unlike our IS department, as students we were expected to act with Honesty, Transparency, Unity, and Integrity. There was one app in particular that I recall was used to monitor our adherence when writing papers, the app was called Turnitin.com and it is used to check a students work for plagiarisms. The app was meant to “keep us honest”. The app calculated the percentage of possible infractions (direct quotes with no citations) and reported this to the professor. This is not exactly how the app works, but I am sure you can understand the concept. The question I pose is, was this app really modifying our behaviours; was it really driving us to exhibit these core values? Or was it simply allowing us as students to modify our exterior (in this case papers) to please those watching?
How does this all correlate to the issue brought to my attention by that staff member? Well, lets take Bill’s statement in his post “character, above everything else, impacts our effectiveness”. As a leader I can establish departmental core values, I can work with marketing to create professional posters, and I can hold myself accountable everyday to walk out these core values, but what I will never be able to do is force these values on others. A persons true character will be exposed when it comes into contact with the light given off by the core values talked about here. As a leader my duty is to be a part of that light and to ensure that when I slip (and I do) that I am transparent in my mistake, honest in my attempt to re-align myself, open to the words of correction from others (unity), and that I act with integrity which draws others to walk with me.