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Leading on the Edge: Extraordinary Stories and Leadership Insights from The World's Most Extreme Workplace by Rachael Robertson

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Chapter 8      image

You know people by what they do, not what they say they do

I think the role of a leader is first to listen, and listen respectfully, before making a decision. The scenarios we played through, though, were challenging. They were nearly always ambiguous and often called upon our inherent sense of what was more valued — this attribute or that attribute. One challenge was particularly insightful.

The penny drops

We were given a list of values that included things like integrity, loyalty, being innovative and being hard-working. The task was to pick the value that was most important to you and then stand up and, in two minutes, convince the group that ‘your’ value was the most important. My immediate gut feeling was that if you've held a value for 30 or 40 years, a value that through role models or your own personal experience you most cherish, then I'm not going to be able to change your long-held belief in two minutes. Nor should I. I have no right to change people's values. So when my turn came I simply talked about integrity and why it was the most important of the seven listed values for me. I didn't try to convince. I didn't try to sell.

Others, though, took a completely different tack, two people taking it to the nth degree. ‘Loyalty! How can you say that integrity is a more important value than loyalty? If people are loyal to each other all else will follow. Without ...

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