Monday, July 25, 2011

Are You A Believer?

"Believe me, this is the right thing."
"I've got to believe we're on the right track."
"We believe this is the best move going forward."

Having strong beliefs is an integral part of society.  Whether they are personal, spiritual, professional, or corporate beliefs, it seems we all have some whether we consciously think about them or not.  So what is it that society is pushing us to believe?

Three Categories of Belief
1.  You can believe anything.
For many, it appears that as long as you believe in something, you're okay.  It doesn't matter what the category or subject is, just be passionate about it.  Believing in something instead of nothing at least gets us noticed...I think.

2.  You can believe in the "wrong" things.
Now things start to get tricky.  Believing in the "wrong" things opens the doors for us to be politically correct -> "I may not agree with you, but I respect the fact that you have the right to have your opinion."   While this may sound good from a theoretical perspective, what happens when that other person's beliefs are truly wrong?  What if they conflict directly with your corporate strategy going forward?  Do you still respect them as much?

3.  You can believe in the "right" things.
If #2 was tricky, this one has to feel almost impossible to deal with.  Who exactly decides what the "right" things are?  Is it your Manager, Senior Management Team, Board of Directors?  Your conscience?  

This Is A Tough Topic
Sometimes in true leadership roles we must support decisions that we may not necessarily completely agree with.  Does that mean those decisions are the "wrong" ones?  Certainly not!  The challenge is making sure we do not compromise our values when we execute strategies that may not meet with our particular belief system.

Think of a leader who did not just believe "anything" or the "wrong" things; but someone who demonstrated to those around them that they believed the "right" things.  How did they show it?  How did people react?  How did the course of your leadership path change because of that person?

How About You
What do you believe about leadership?  Do you believe the "right" things; or just as importantly, do those around you know what you believe?  If you simply say you "believe" but you never show it, you really don't believe in anything at all.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of sydney


  1. Jay,

    This is a topic that has been bugging me for a few days (almost enough to write about).

    So is it a matter of belief or a possible temporary crisis of faith?

    Great post!


  2. I respect the fact that we all different beliefs but after what happened in Norway this weekend; I can see why the belief system of some may be broken and questions. I can also how those same events pushes someone to rely on their beliefs to make it through. Nice Post...Thanks Jay.

  3. Jay - I agree with your points here. The fact that all people believe in "something" is always in front of us. HR tends to be too ambiguous in this area and this is a true danger. I feel we need to see what others believe and see how those believes can be incorporated consistently within organizations. If they can't, because companies won't support certain beliefs, then address it when it happens instead of coming up with broad stroke policies for/against something.

    Chris' point above is legit. However, I don't feel we should move things to account for outliers because you can't capture everything.

    You've made us think and that is great !! Keep up the digging approach.

  4. John, Chris, Steve - Many thanks for your thoughtful comments. There are no easy answers with this topic, but your feedback adds to the discussion in a big way. Thank you!