How To Forge Deep, Lasting Values By Ringing The Bell For What Matters Most

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The values on your team or in your organization are not formed by the posters and plaques that hang on the wall. More than any other factor, values are formed by what you celebrate.

There’s an old axiom that says, “What gets measured, gets done.” And while there is truth in this, when it comes to reinforcing values, “What gets celebrated, gets done.”

I call this “Ringing the Bell Leadership”.

You’ve likely been in an office where a shiny bell hangs in a prominent location, which is rigorously and enthusiastically rung when a certain milestone is reached. You might have one of these bells hanging in your own office.

Most often, such bells are chimed when a financial or sales target is hit.

  • Just achieved budget for the month? Ring the bell!

  • Just topped last year’s numbers? Ring the bell!

  • Just closed the big sale? Ring the bell!

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with celebrating these milestones. Hitting the numbers matters. But if the only time your team hears the bell chiming is when a sales figure is reached or when a numeric growth goal is achieved, soon your team will come to realize that these are the achievements that matter. This will reinforce their behaviors, and this will form your cultural values.

Other types of bells…

You may, or may not, have a physical bell in your office. But you have some means of signaling when a milestone of significance has been accomplished. And so whether you make a staff-wide announcement, or send out a congratulatory email to the team, or simply ‘high-five’ everyone, everyone knows what accomplishments are being rewarded. You have your own means of ringing the bell.

Here’s the point. You have it in your power to forge the values of your team by what you celebrate. So how about ringing the bell for some of these less tangible, but highly valued, accomplishments.

  • Did someone demonstrate extraordinary kindness? Ring the bell.

  • Did someone stay late to help a teammate finish a project? Ring the bell.

  • Did someone offer encouragement to a colleague having a bad day? Ring the bell.

As a leader, you have the power to forge the cultural values of your team by what you choose to celebrate.

So articulate the behaviors you want to reinforce.

And the ring the bell when they happen.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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