31 May 2015
Whether it’s revolutionising an entire industry or changing people’s perceptions, most companies will have a mission statement on their website outlining their vision and the attributes they value most. Knowing whether the company’s leaders – their managers and directors – actually embody those characteristics, however, is a different matter.
At a time when some of the top members of FIFA are being investigated under claims of corruption, it certainly seems like a relevant question. Whilst I don’t want to judge anyone just yet, as nothing is set in stone, it is still interesting to look at FIFA’s mission as an organisation.
On their website it is written: “We believe that we have a duty to society that goes beyond football: to improve the lives of young people and their surrounding communities, to reduce the negative impact of our activities and to make the most we can of the positives.”
Reducing the negative impact of what we do at UKFast in terms of the environment is hugely important to us, so I understand this particular focus; however, whether FIFA have actually stuck to their ethos is a different ball game entirely. It would be a shame to hear that they have fallen into the trappings of success, especially when you consider the football development projects they help to deliver around the world.
I’m more of a rugby man myself, but sport as a catalyst for social change and to better people’s lives is something I’m incredibly passionate about. At this junction, I’d reiterate Richard Branson’s suggestion – made on one of his blogs recently – that FIFA work to reinvent themselves and their brand.
If something has gone fundamentally wrong at the heart of the organisation, you can’t simply whitewash over it. Nor can you, as a leader, pass the buck when it comes to taking responsibility for any mistakes or failures. Maybe it’s time they reflected on their history, their values and their purpose. What kind of an organisation do they want to be and, as it stands, are they currently achieving this?
In my experience, you can tell if a company’s leaders are living the values they talk about by looking at the team as a whole, both in business and in sport. Great leaders know they can’t simply demand that their employees behave in a certain way if they don’t hold themselves accountable to the same standards.
More often than not, when you find a business or organisation that’s full of energised, happy employees, its values are being lived and enjoyed across the board. Take “insatiable curiosity”, one of Virgin Media’s core values. When you apply it to Richard Branson it definitely makes sense. I don’t think you can dispute his huge appetite for taking on challenges and discovering new ways of doing things. Having travelled with Virgin on a number of occasions, I can also attest to the positive attitude their staff have in spades.
In Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’, he states one of the leadership principles needed to be successful, writing: “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.”
To get the best out of people, you can’t praise one set of values and act out another. It just wouldn’t work. Double standards, despite their name, can be the single point of failure within a business. They are best avoided. Throughout the entire business, people’s values must be aligned – all working as one to move the whole company forward.
For more than a decade we have delivered a 5% pay increase to everyone involved at UKFast, whatever their role or department. So whether you’re working remotely in the data centre, on the sales floor or supporting tickets, everyone is included.
It’s only because everyone is engaged and working hard to make a positive difference to the lives of our clients that we are able to do this, and it’s a privilege to be able to provide it for every member of the business.
It’s an old saying, but it really is important to walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to core values. Otherwise you run the risk of creating a fragmented and confused culture, which can cause the lifespan of any company to become significantly shorter!
What are your values? What kind of shadow do you cast when you enter a room? Are the two aligned?
Life is about how you make people feel and, ultimately, that’s what they’ll remember.
Stay true to yourself and don’t stray from the path. You’re on the right one, believe me.