How to navigate conflicting values at work?

e1 / podcast & show notes, wherein I nod to the notion of ‘both-and’


*Rubs hands*—this is a good one. In this (very first) episode I attempt to answer the following subscriber question.

Ahoy Jason,

Here is my question: During my time in the armed forces, one of the core values demanded from me as a leader was that (and I paraphrase) I have the courage both moral and physical to balance mateship with duty. Time and time again in my corporate position, my leaders don’t see this balance of mateship and duty as valuable, and say things like “you can’t associate with them outside work, you’re their 2 up manager, and you should only relate to them on a professional level”. The feedback I receive consistently from those I do lead is “I enjoy the balance of mateship and duty in the relationship I have as it makes you approachable, but without ever blurring the lines as I clearly know where they stand at all times”.

My conundrum is thus: Do I do as my upwards manager insists (and stop being my genuine self), or do I remain true to my values of leadership?

The first seems inconsistent with my beliefs on what great managers can do, and the second seems like a desired trait in leadership. Is there something I’m missing here—or did I not get the memo that mateship and leadership are mutually exclusive outside of the military context?
—Confused Leader, Adelaide

Thanks for the question Confused Leader. I love the earnest perplexity here, and I know that the broad thrust of your angst is something many would relate to. Indeed: how do we navigate such a conflict of values at work, as a leader? With luck, this podcast may offer an enriched perspective.

Here are a list of books and references that dropped from my meanderings.

» Making Ideas Happen & The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky
» Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey
» Michael Grinder (amazing intelligence—website daggy AF)
» Antifragile by Nassim Taleb (the ‘barbell strategy’)
» The Responsive Org Manifesto

I trust my foray into podcasting is of value. Or at least, I hope so. Enjoy!

Have a question you’d like for me to muse upon in auditory fashion? Subscribe to my museletter and keep your eye out for my next Call for Questions.

PodcastJason FoxComment