Once upon a time there was a young and driven boy called David.
David did not pursue an academic career and at the tender age of eighteen years old, he joined the fascinating and glittering life of hotel concierge for the rich and famous. Sliding through the velvety corridors of the Dorchester and the Connaught, rubbing shoulders with millionaires and handling up to 351 credit cards and 19 mobile phones at a time...he raised from hotelier to successful entrepreneur.
What did he learn? In his own words, he learnt about hard work, dedication and above all treating everyone with respect. He also experienced firsthand the importance of integrity and loyalty to friends and family.
His philosophy is simple yet profound- Never take the easy route in anything you do. Look to excel everyday, to create everyday, to do the right thing every day, always start something with a view to finishing it and ...give back- He now systematically allocates a part of all business profit to charities.
David looks for the same quality in his team and people he chooses to work with. Johnstone is the name and he is the Founder of Freeholdings, a lifestyle company looking to cater for the most exclusive needs of ultra high net net worth individuals, the Global Party and Champagne for Life are his brainchildren and a booming business
The past few years has seen yet another set of scandals at financial institutions, reflecting on the values of the leaders of these service providers.
Leaders of financial institutions have failed because we expect them to act as role models and examples setting the tone for the rest of us.
Real leadership cannot exist without proper values, as without values leadership has the potential to become meaningless and even harmful.
So how do they get back in touch with the value system and by doing so becomes a better leader?
It starts with self-awareness, tempered by a deep understanding of the environment.
What do I mean by that? Knowing your value set is about being aware of what is acceptable for you as a person.
This knowledge will filter in your assessment of situations, your decision-making and how you relate to others through trust and respect. It has to be paired with understanding your environment, defining what is acceptable or not for you in your organisation.
How do you do it?
My experience has shown that build-ing a strong understanding of your value set and that of your organisation can be achieved through a simple three-step process.
Self-questioning - everything in leadership starts from within. Self-questioning will help you consciously dis-cover or rediscover your core value set and also start sensing what it means for the organisation by the perceived values of being a leader.
Being a leader is, above all, about having an impact on people. They are different because of you - integrating this into your thinking is critical. These questions enable you to assess and work on how people perceive you and react to you.
Recalibrating your perceived value set. Once you know about yourself, remember that your perception is your reality - mitigating any misperceptions or gap between what you think you project and what people around you see is also important when it comes to reaching value engrained leadership.
Do not hesitate to reach out to your peers, your mentors and even your direct reports and focus on the values you think you demonstrate. Ask them if these are qualities that you demonstrate and whether these are traits someone in your particular leadership position should demonstrate. Once you are happy with steps one and two, think about creating your value statement, that is what you stand for.
Keep the momentum. Bring your value statement to life.
Leadership is about actions, not just words, so you need to show commitment in behaviour that is related to your value statement. Think about the way you will translate your vision into your decision-making process, into the decisions and choices you make and how you communicate all of these.
Only then will you create the right perception. Soon you will realise that not only will you attract people with a similar value set, but your leadership brand will be enhanced.
As a parting - and true - story, an executive in the infrastructure industry was faced with an ethical dilemma at a certain point in her career. She was on the board of a company that was going to be acquired very shortly.
The closing of the deal was an inherent part of the delivery for the year and would be taken into consideration for the bonus calculation. The valuation was also an element - the higher the valuation, the higher the bonus. Faced with discussions about pushing the valuation up, she felt uncomfortable and decided to leave the company. She said this was so far removed from her values and her beliefs and that she had reached her limit.
Now, go look for your values, rekindle them, embrace them, aim to be the modern Dionege of Sinope - hold your lantern high and look for an honest man.