Reinforce Through Systems and Processes
While attending a leadership course on Mount Fuji in Japan, Bert Wong, president and managing director of Fuji Xerox Singapore, was asked to reflect on the behaviors a great leader would demonstrate. He realized he didn’t have the answers. That prompted Bert to seri- ously reflect on his own leadership and the business he led. What he realized from his self-exploration was that his team and business were heavily reliant on him. “I was leading an orchestra of people who would merely follow my lead,” Bert told us. “When I was physically present, the business would see growth, but when I was absent, busi- ness would correspondingly suffer. Initiatives would be followed through with excellent execution, but the starting point and the driving force would always stem from me.” This experience prompted
G E Bert to begin a multiyear process of creating a sustainable organiza-
tion in which everyone shared in and was driven by a common set of values. Although many initially challenged Bert’s approach, his persistence led to the creation of the Fuji Xerox Singapore core values: Fighting Spirit, Innovation and Learning, Collaborate to Compete, and Care and Concern.
But Bert knew that understanding and agreeing on the values were only the first steps. The next challenge was to make them a way of life. He was determined that the Fuji Xerox core values would play a key role in guiding the everyday decisions and actions of organization members. He knew that they had to be reinforced through daily actions and through all the others processes and systems that are a part of life at work. He began talking about them at every meeting, in every success story, and whenever a contract was won. He made sure that success was attributed to living the core values. And he did more than just communicate the values. Bert also ensured that the core values were reinforced through company-wide social events. Team-building activities, such as car rallies, would emphasize Fighting Spirit, Innovation and Learning, Collaborate to Compete, and Care and Concern. The Inspirational Player of the Year Award, voted by peers, was implemented to give recognition to exemplary members who demonstrated the Fuji Xerox core values.
Organizational practices were also aligned to the Fuji Xerox core values. To reinforce the value of Collaborate to Compete, different departments began to share similar key performance indicators (KPIs). Prior to this initiative, the finance and sales departments would often come into conflict as they pursued their respective departmental KPIs. Recognizing this misalignment, Bert worked with the two departments to find more compatible KPIs, and gave finance a stake in helping win a customer contract. They were no longer two separate departments. They were one team with members collaborating together to compete.
Fuji Xerox Singapore gradually began to see changes within the organization. As the core values were reinforced in their daily work activities, people began to internalize the values in everything they did. What began as Bert’s personal leadership journey led to the institutionalization of a set of principles that eventually guided everyone’s decisions and actions.
All exemplary leaders understand, as Bert does, that you have to reinforce the key values that are important to building and sustaining the kind of culture you want.18 Key performance measures and reward systems are among the many methods available to you.19 Recruitment, selection, on-boarding, training, information, reten- tion, and promotion systems are also important means by which you can teach people how to enact values and align behavior. They all send signals about what is valued and what is not, and they must be aligned with the shared values and standards that you’re trying to instill.