By Diane Nettifee, Magis Ventures

Values and Purpose in Action Leadership Series challenges and inspires leaders to put their values into action. Living true is not easy. It requires reflection, action and commitment. When companies live true, they stand out and attract customers, employees, and stakeholders from every aspect of their organization.

In the inaugural session of the 2016 Values and Purpose in Action Leadership series, Rhoda Olsen, CEO of Great Clips, provided some valuable insights on the topic of “How Leaders Stay True.” We wanted to explore:

  • What does it mean for a leader to stay true?
  • Who does a leader need to be to inspire and influence an organization to stay true to who they say they are?

“It was 2005 and I was coming back from my cancer battle. The organization was struggling and we were trying to decide if I should lead the company. There was a lot of pushing and challenging. I asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” That’s when I created my personal vision.”

Rhoda’s personal vision is threefold:

  1. Be a healthy role model—emotionally and physically.

“As leaders we must be healthy. Emotional health means I know myself and my limits. I accept that I’m not perfect and I invite others to show up with their imperfections and real struggles. I ask for feedback and take it to heart. I’m always trying to grow. My physical health is also important. I do pushups every day and challenge others around me to take their health seriously.

  1. Be a values driven leader who takes responsibility for my impact on others.

“Relationships are important. Knowing and caring about our impact is the responsibility of every leader. Words are powerful. Knowing what you want to say and how you are going to say it matters. Whatever your political leanings, we must agree that the role of a leader is not to stoke anger—we don’t have the luxury to say whatever we want. We influence how people respond. Staying true means paying attention to our capacity to influence and using it for the good.”

  1. Build a legacy business where all stakeholders have the opportunity to be successful.

“When leaders are true and consistent they inspire trust from their followers. Trust is something we earn over and over. Most businesses have struggles and they play an important part in deciding the core values that you live. As an organization we truly care about our employees. Some people think that caring and accountability are opposites of each other. I feel caring holds you accountable to do the harder thing and not shrink from making difficult decisions or giving tough feedback. It’s what makes us better.”

Great Clips Core Values:

  • We are kind.
  • We listen and earn trust (over and over again).
  • Keep it simple.
  • Execution.
  • Exceed expectations.
  • Make it fun.

To close her remarks, Rhoda put up a slide of the lion from The Wizard of Oz. It takes courage to live true. Courage comes when you stand on your commitment. Your commitment is strong when you are clear on what you stand for.

The practices Rhoda suggests for staying true are:

  • Write it down.
  • Gain feedback.
  • Make it visible, conspicuous.
  • Share it.

Now it’s your turn: What does it mean for you to stay true? Click on “Leave a Comment” above to let me know!

Next Leadership Series speaker (May 6): Lee Wallace, CEO of Peace Coffee, How Leaders Leverage Tension. Register now!