Two weeks ago, it was a pleasure to be able to do a mini-launch of my book “Paradise Rescued – From Cabbage Patch to Cabernet Franc” at the Yarra Valley Dairy cheese factory. It was inspirational to listen to Leo Mooney, the founder director of the business about the culture and values that he had given to that business as its leader.
What was even equally inspiring was to then listen to Jack Holman, the Head Cheesemaker at Yarra Valley Dairy, talk about why he has such passion for his work and business. And it all came down to the (leadership) culture and environment at the dairy. He talked about the vision for the organisation and the “space” he is given to innovate and develop his production.
I got the message! The culture at Yarra Valley came from the leader. It wasn’t an accident. It was what Leo Mooney wanted to make happen. And what has taken place is a mirror reflection of his values.
Bingo – that’s powerful!
This tells us a lot about leadership. What you give is what you get? If we as leaders want ownership, responsibility, innovation and creativity in our organisations, then we have to establish that as the culture. We have to behave, support and reward (not just money) in a manner that encourages that type of business. Every signal that we give as a leader reinforces (or countermands) what we are looking for.
But we must always beware of duplicity and conflicting values. For instance, we cannot be encouraging innovation and creativity at one instance and then five minutes later be calling for an across the board cost cut and suspension of all projects. Good unambiguous communication, preceded by clear prior leadership thinking, is critical to achieving the right outcome.
One of the best ways I have seen of developing and imputing values to an organisation is by using a published picture Vision document. At Paradise Rescued, we took time to get that right before we started to produce wine and enter the market place. And right in the middle of that Vision picture, enclosed in a bottle, are our values. And whenever, I have a tough question, invariably the answer comes right back at me from those values.
There is huge power in taking the time to think through fully what kind of an organisation you want to have, how you want its people to work, what type of customers you would like to have and to focus the attention of the team on that outcome.
Leaders set the Values.