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In my last four posts I highlighted the four values that one company (Caterpillar) has used as a framework to shape the behavior of an organization.  More than an academic exercise, this “case study” is one that I lived for eighteen years.  The values of integrity, excellence, teamwork, and commitment provided a vision for the behaviors the organization wanted to reinforce.  Gather a collection of people who do the right thing, make sure they do those things to an exceedingly high standard, partner closely with each other, and ensure that follow through is a way of life for all of them.  I can whole heartedly say that the organization does a great job teaching the framework, marketing it through out the organization, and — to a large degree — recognizing and rewarding behaviors that were consistent with the framework.  That is why the company has been successful and will continue to be successful.

However, in my opinion, there is something missing.  In particular, over time I noticed that the focus was shifting more and more to individual entities.  The company seemed to be caring more about its well being versus the well being of the individuals; and, similarly, the individuals seemed to be caring more and more about their well being versus the companies.  In my particular case, the sense of shared responsibility faded; and, as a result, we ended up parting ways.  What was missing?  What additional value could have been established and emphasized to create this sense of shared responsibility?

I present you with courage.  While I have always been aware of the word, back in 2003 I had the privilege of meeting Sandra Ford Walston.  If you head out in to the “google-sphere” you will see that Sandra’s area of focus is courage.  She studies the concept in great depth and shares her thoughts and perspectives openly.  She got me thinking.  Lots.  Over time, I developed — and adopted — a fifth value:  courage.  By incorporating that value in to my behaviors, I was able to perform — in my opinion — at a higher level.  My definition is as follows:

Courage is the willingness to put ones self at risk for the betterment of others.

Circle back to the concept of shared responsibility.  Suppose that we emphasize the behavior of putting ones self at risk for the betterment of others.  What would happen if the company took risks for the good of the employees?  What if the employees took risks for the good of the company?  What if this behavior were recognized and rewarded?  I’d offer that if you establish this fifth value, you end up with a stronger, more sustainable organization.  Look at it another way.  Where there’s risk, there’s normally reward.

With that in mind, today’s question:

What action will you take today that puts you at risk but helps those around you to learn, grow, or live better?

As always, thanks for the time.