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Why Living By Your Values is as Important as Defining Them

A 3H-Core is comprised of humility, honesty, and heart. These values work in harmony with each other and form three interlocking links in a chain that provide strength for the storms of life. These three values are what I hope people see when I transparently open a window into my soul, and I believe they provide a stabilizing aspect to any leader’s microclimate that will equip them for a life of transfluence.

Most leaders, most good and authentic leaders, have a core set of values. The virtues that they lead with. And I think if they consistently lead that way, they build trust in their organizations because people know that they can count on it.

Take integrity, for example. If a leader has a high degree of integrity, everybody knows they can count on that situation. So when I first took over the company, I’m a big believer in elevator speeches, and I like to say things clearly and quickly – boom, boom, boom. Between the first and the eighth floor, you need to be done with the way you talk about it. And I had trouble putting all of my values into an elevator speech. And I kind of thought I knew what they were, but I wasn’t 100% sure, and so I struggled with it.

I was put in touch with a gentleman by the name of John Mack, who was the CEO of Morgan Stanley. In 2008, think about what Morgan Stanley’s going through, the Fed and the treasury secretary cramming banks together, everybody’s worried about the financial system And I said, “John, don’t tell me about what I read in the paper. I just want to know one thing, I want to know how you’re managing your people.”

John was a revered leader on Wall Street. He said, “Walt, I manage my people on the basis of the three Hs.”

And I said, “Well, what is that?”

And he said, “They’re all characteristics. Humility. The best leaders are humble leaders. They’re selfless.”

“Honesty. Without integrity, you have nothing. In this day and age, a banker needs to have a sense of humor.”

And I laughed, and I said, “You’re right.”

But I thought about the last word. I kind of struggled with that. I didn’t have a management team that was overly funny, and I didn’t think I was overly funny. But the more I thought about it, I think what John was talking about was relatability. I mean you crack a joke because you want people to relate to you, right?

And it was the human element that he was talking about, humanity. And I coined those three words as my 3H-Core, humility, honesty, and humanness. I call it heart in the book.

Humility is all about the way a leader thinks about his or herself. Are they selfless? Humanity is how they treat others, how they think about others, how they treat other people, how they communicate to them, how they lift them up, how they make them better. And honesty is the action or let’s just say in business terms, the transaction that connects the two. And I think those are three very, very powerful words that if leaders live by, they’ll create an imminent amount of trust in their organization.

Living out your 3H-Core is a daily decision. I think you have to be intentional about it, and I’m not always good at it. I find myself drifting pretty much every day, and I’ve got to bring myself back.

And I think one of the ways that you live it out is through the little things. Because if you get the little things right in life, then the bigger things become a no-brainer.

I’ll give you an example. I had an assistant once who really protected me. She was terrific. And I loved her. Anything that happened that she felt was going the wrong way, she’d do her best to make sure that it would go the right way for me.

And there was this gentleman that wanted to get ahold of me. And she knew that I wasn’t all that excited about talking with him. And I remember he called and she said, “Well, he’s not in the office.” And I met her later on in the evening as we did every night, and she sat down with me and I said, “So tell me about the day.” And she said, “Well, X, Y, and Z called you and I just want you to know I told him that you weren’t in the office.”

And I said, “You know, first of all, let me just tell you, you’re a terrific assistant. You know how much I think of you, so don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t ever want you to lie to people. Ever. And I don’t want you to be put in that position where you feel like you have to lie for me. I can do my own fighting.”

I said, “You know, if he called, then either tell him that you’re trying to get hold of me or put him through. But let me fight the battle, you don’t need to fight that battle for me.”

Now that was a little thing about honesty that never, nobody would ever know that I wasn’t in that day. But the most important thing was that she got the message that the little things mattered to me. Integrity. And so when the bigger things happen, she knew how I would handle it.

And I think that’s how you intentionally deal with your 3H-Core on a day-to-day basis doing the little things, because when the big things come, you’ll know how to handle it.

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