Give People Reasons to Care Back »

Written by B. Lynn Gordon (former SDSU Extension Agricultural Leadership Specialist).

Whether you are an employer aiming to motivate your employees or a chairperson of a committee for an organization in either of these leadership roles you will be more likely to reach your outcomes when you give your employees and volunteers a reason to care.

Understanding Shared Values

As you refine your abilities to be an effective leader, your values must be consistent with those of the people who follow you. Think of an organization you are part of? Why did you join that organization? Was it because you had lots of extra time and were looking for something to do? If that was the case, you would have had several organizations to pick from, why did you pick the one you did? Most likely, it was because that organization’s mission, goals, charity work, etc., was something you believed in. For example, let’s say you decided to volunteer with your local Red Cross because you saw the impact they had helping out a neighboring town who was hit by a tornado. You decided if a disaster like that was to ever happen again in rural town or area of South Dakota near you, that you wanted to be on the Red Cross team to help out, not be the one standing on the sidelines. Your values and the values of Red Cross were aligned.

Fostering Commitment

This example occurs when you serve in a leadership role as well. You may be the leader on your farm cooperative board, local fire department, local commodity organization, or a multitude of examples where you may have been placed in a leadership role. But a formal title doesn’t mean you are automatically a leader, you have to earn the title of being a leader, by how you lead. And as presented in this article one way you earn that title is understanding of shared values. The person serving in the leadership role has the ability to build consensus on a common set of principles with the community of people involved (followers). If successful in doing this, it’s amazing to see the productive energy created when the individuals, the group/team and organization are all on the same page. Those involved have added intensity to care about what they are doing, about the mission, about the tasks at hand and their peers in the organization. What happens when people care? — They are more effective and satisfied?; they have a longer term commitment to the organization and become even more active.

As a person striving to be the leader who can lead an organization, employees or volunteers which result in outcomes like this, it starts with the person clearly understanding their values, creating a group with shared values and articulating expectations for the group. This gives people/followers a reason to care (Kouzes and Posner, 2014).

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