New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Engineering Leadership Development Division
With leadership being the topic of many conference presentations, we see more and more institutions saying they are ‘values-driven.’ They have signs and literature and business cards informing the public that they are ‘values-driven’ so it must be true; their leadership style surely must be authentic.
But before we think about changing an organizational culture to attain an authentic, values-driven culture, upper management must examine its own values and codify them by using some form of validated instrument. When we exemplify those values, and ensure congruency in our own artifactual, espoused and actual values, then we’re ready to raise authenticity in our company. Congruency between words and actions demonstrates authenticity. This is especially true with regard to the immense safety responsibilities shouldered by project engineers and safety managers. When a safety professional’s behavior is manifested because it’s the right thing to do, it reflects authentic leadership and not just literature and business cards. This authentic leadership leads to authentic values-driven culture.
The values-driven culture is essential for safety because the safety professional or project engineer is not omnipresent to the workers to direct every behavior. Every individual must become a leader. Authentic leaders can exist at all levels of an organization; a forklift driver does not need the title CEO or foreman to manifest his actual values in voluntarily instructing a new employee in the virtues of inspecting the truck’s brakes every day whether the rules require it or not.
Organizational leaders, including those directly responsible for safety, must act congruent to their artifactual and espoused values to foster values-driven culture. Organizational research conducted over the past twenty years by Schein1,2 or Ott3, for example suggests that any mis-match between espoused values and values-in-use among organizational leaders causes morale problems because employees see that what is professed is not what we actually do. As Hannah4 points out, authentic leaders are continually under some level of scrutiny.
The question for educators is how to teach leadership to future safety professionals and project engineers. There appears to be a mismatch between what educational institutions claim and what employers receive as new graduates. However leadership has been taught for years in schools like the military academies with an all-encompassing model of development. Most safety professionals and project engineers will not come from the military academies and must have a model based on classroom experiences. This paper reviews the relevant sociological and psychological research associated with values-in-use leadership, and offers a model for classroom leadership development. There is limited data to demonstrate validity of the model, but promising feedback from students.
Winn, G. L., & Slagley, J. M. (2016, June), Values-Congruent vs. Values-Artifact Leadership: How Are They Different? Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27177
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