Leaders are good role models for non-conformity, says author and organizational psychologist Adam Grant.
“You need to encourage people to believe that they won’t lose their jobs if they do things differently,” he says. It is also important from the point of view of effective leadership for a company not to have too many values.
“I worry about leaders who have too many values. Some have 10 to 12 values – that is far too many. Values are supposed to be memorable and to encourage both honesty and loyalty in your staff. The values of an organization need to lead its people in the right direction. I would say that three or four values is about right. You also want to encourage change, but to make sure that they don’t throw out the baby with bathwater, losing what’s useful.”
So what are Grant’s own value priorities?
He cites four: humanity, as in helping other people; achievement; relationships; and autonomy. “Groupthink is never a good thing,” he says. It’s not helpful to just say, ‘I’m going to follow you because you’re the boss’. You need people constantly coming up with new ideas, so they change the world before someone else.”
At the same time, he says, leaders should not be afraid of expressing vulnerability. “Humility is a great way to make a connection and break the ice,” he says.