Ince, a South African company in the information and investment sectors, has been engaged in applying Legitimate Leadership’s module, Enabling Human Excellence by Raising the Bar. This module particularly addresses standards.
The company has been re-evaluating three sets of standards: relating to leadership, behaviour and performance.
Behavioural standards are based on values, and one of the company’s values is “collaboration”. Linked to this value is a behavioural standard paraphrased as, “We say never say ‘no’ to a customer; we say ‘yes’ and try to meet their needs”.
During the application module workshop, the executive team noted that the “say yes” behavioural standard was well established in relation to external customers, but much less so for internal customers. Internally, often the response to a request for assistance was, for instance, “that’s not my portfolio”, or “that’s not my business”.
Following the application module workshop, the executive team set about clarifying the company’s standards as they related to internal collaboration. They articulated this to the broader business as a new behavioural standard called “Turn No into Yes”, using an infographic (accompanying illustration) to make the intent behind the standard clear.
The wider lesson for the executive team in this instance was that, employees (especially new inductees) do not necessarily understand all the implications of company values and standards. Leaders assume too readily that there is a common understanding – but without defining clearly what is meant by certain values and their associated behavioural standards (for instance, articulating what “good” looks like).
Alban Atkinson, managing director of Ince, commented: “We are in the eighth month of our Legitimate Leadership programme, for 45 leaders. We started implementing this behavioural methodology in the fourth month. Since then, the language of the whole organisation has changed to reflect the new standard. And it’s not just the language. The executive team is three Legitimate Leadership modules ahead of the rest, and their behavioural change in relation to this standard is now noticeable. We believe the rest of our people will follow suit soon.”