How Every Leader’s Actions Are Driven By Core Values

Core Values Drive Leaders

Recently tennis No.1 Novak Djokovic was disallowed from taking part in the Australian Open and was deported from Australia. Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19, and the Australian authorities decided an exception was not possible with Djokovic’s case. Both parties took a stand for what they believed was the right decision.

For Djokovic, it meant a decision to forego his bid to a record 21 Grand Slams. Was he aware that his stand against being vaccinated would possibly (highly) impact his chances of participation at the Australian Open? I’m sure he was.

Whether it is in sports or countries, what drives their behaviour and actions are a set of beliefs and values. These core values act as a guiding compass in situations that need taking a stand. The same holds true for companies and individuals too.

One example that comes to mind is an event from 1982

Seven people died in the Chicago area after taking cyanide-laced capsules of Extra-Strength Tylenol, the painkiller that was Johnson and Johnson’s best-selling product.

The then CEO James Burke made the decision to pull out all Tylenol products off the shelf. A decision that cost the company millions of dollars. 

When he was later interviewed about this decision, he said that he ‘made the right decision’ not when he chose to pull Tylenol from stores. It was when he became CEO (six years prior to the Tylenol event), he challenged the company to either commit to or discard its core value of putting customers and their well-being first.

The value was deeply ingrained in him that when the crisis occurred, the decision to pull the product off the shelves was already a clear choice. It was not a decision he had to make at the time of the crisis.

He said, “Trust has been an operative word in my life. It embodies almost everything you can strive for that will help you to succeed. You tell me any human relationship that works without trust, whether it is a marriage or a friendship or a social interaction; in the long run, the same thing is true about business.”

Burke was so clear about what values he held dear and what kind of leader he wanted to be in a crisis. So, when a crisis occurred he was acting on auto-pilot. He didn’t have to think about what his actions would be. 

Having clarity on what your core values and beliefs are will guide you to right actions and decisions. 

What core values drive your actions and behaviour?

About The Author
Vinod Krishna

Vinod Krishna is a brand storytelling trainer and consultant at DustyPaths.
He brings 3 decades of experience in leading people, projects, and businesses
to forge new paths in brand storytelling.
He is an avid barefoot runner, trekker, theater artist, and photographer.
Connect with him on LinkedIn

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