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They are spelled the same, minus the “s,” but their meaning can be dramatically different when you define a company’s focus and contrast that with the leadership style of the executive in charge.

There are many executives — CEOs, CFOs Chief Marketing Officers valuesand Vice Presidents of Sales — who are legitimate values-based professionals.  They focus on executing their business plans in an ethical manner, engaging their employees in a meaningful way and respecting the needs of their customer.  Their values focus is not on themselves, their compensation or ego-centered position within the business community, but the mission vision and values of the company wrapped steadfastly in a passionate commitment to their customers.  They are true believers.

Contrast this leadership philosophy with those executives who obsess over value for their shareholders.  Too often, these executive are more concerned with the financial performance of their company, and the potential for a juicy year-end bonus.  Their use of the word value is internally focused not usually in alignment with the values of customers.

I have always believed it was easy to succeed by zeroing in on  your performance metrics, the company’s (sales) goals. Hit the numbers and you are a success, right?  However, the central question then becomes, do those metrics which produce value for the CEO and the shareholders  really align with the values of their customers?

The harder job — the one that differentiates the true leaders from the mere “implementors” — is whether you can sustain an organization’s noble values, meet the customer’s needs in an exceptional way and still produce value for the shareholders.

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