Hero Intensity: The Second Part of Achieving an Executive Hero Factor
The following excerpt is from Jeffrey Hayzlett’s book The Hero Factor: How Great Leaders Transform Organizations and Create Winning Cultures. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound
Do you value people over profit?
That’s often the first question I ask leaders about themselves and their companies to determine their Hero Intensity. Be careful how you answer because the answer isn’t profit over people or people over profit -- it’s profit and people. Operational Excellence is the profit side and Hero Intensity is the “people” side, and that Hero Intensity is based on two factors:
- Your organization’s and your values and how you live them
- How your organization and you value “others”—people and groups inside and outside the organization, the community, and the world we live in
Let’s take a deeper dive into these two points.
Everything -- from your vision of where you want the company to go to how you treat your people and customers to the culture of your organization—flows from your values. Your values are the foundation for all you do at your company, and they state in no uncertain terms what you genuinely believe in.
This foundation starts with those values being clearly stated and tied to any mission statements. But those values must go beyond words. You must see and feel them in the actions of the people who work for you and communicate them to anyone who connects to or through you.
That said, ask yourself, your organization, your leadership, and all your people the following questions:
- Are your values clearly articulated?
- Are they written out for all to see?
- Can you and all your people, as well as your customers, partners, community, etc., see and say what they are?
- Do your people live those values? What’s the evidence that you and they live them?
- Do they show up in the products you produce and/or services you offer?
- Do you review them regularly to ensure you are living them and they still support your direction as an organization?
- How firm are you in them? How have they changed and evolved?
Notice I didn’t ask what your values are -- just that they be clearly stated. That’s because what they are is irrelevant to determining your Hero Factor. Doing what’s right is simply about choosing to be the best you can be for others in the service of your values, whatever they may be.
The real problem isn’t when values clash with yours, but how many leaders out there can’t actually say what they and their organizations truly value and then live those values consistently and sustainably in everything they do.
Can you? Do you know the immutable, indisputable things you and your business stand for? Could you show how they permeate your culture and how those values align with what the company says it values? If not, you aren’t a hero to anyone, let alone yourself and your business. That doesn’t make you wrong, evil, or even a hypocrite. You might be a nice person and run a nice place to work. But it does lower your Hero Intensity.
I am reminded of the line from Matthew 7:1 in the New Testament: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” This is often interpreted as meaning “don’t judge, but it actually means you shouldn’t judge unless you’re willing to expose yourself to the same judgment. It means hold yourself to the same standard you demand of others. It means don’t be a damned hypocrite. Heroes who live their values are rarely hypocrites, but when they do make mistakes, they’re strong enough to admit they’re wrong, rather than hide, cover it up, or offer halfhearted or inauthentic mea culpas. They take responsibility, then hold themselves accountable for making sure it doesn’t happen again. That second part -- accountability -- is key. Apologies are useless without acknowledging and understanding the mistake and then actually holding yourself accountable for preventing them in the future.
The real test of your Hero Intensity is what happens after a mistake is made or when the mistakes are discovered. Does it lead to real change in values and the way the business is run and how leadership conducts itself? Or will it just result in a proclamation of plans for change followed by little action once public scrutiny fades? How you take responsibility and hold yourself accountable determines how much forgiveness others have and how far your Hero Intensity falls. If companies are willing to reevaluate their values and beliefs, they can genuinely change how they act. Just like being strong enough to admit when you’ve failed to live by the values you promote, being willing to open yourself up to the possibility of changing them -- and actually doing it -- can raise your Hero Factor.