Many companies are suddenly crafting statements that denounce racism and affirm their commitment to equality and inclusion. Such proclamations are easy to do, but writing about your values or posting them on a wall is a far cry from actually living them.

Values need to become a foundation for other actions throughout the company and must be brought to life for all those who work there. Watch for signs of how the values are made real: with strategy alignment, hiring decisions, budget allocations, time spent, transparent information sharing, vulnerability, rewards, priorities, promotions and in the stories that are shared.

Even if you are not in management directly, everyone who works in an organization has the ability to make the values real – or to call out those who disregard them. The undersecretary of defense who publicly submitted his resignation or the employees at Facebook who are resigning have taken drastic steps to highlight the misalignment of values, but there are smaller steps everyone can take to challenge the gap between what is said and what is done.

You don’t always have to pick up a sign and protest in the street to make a difference. Sometimes, what is needed most is for you to speak up in your own organization first.

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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