Lacking Values-Based Leadership at Wells Fargo
A letter to the editor as it appeared in The Gazette, September 14, 2016
The story is all too familiar by now. In an effort to meet their targets, Wells Fargo employees created over 2 million fake bank and credit card accounts from which they charged various fees. While the fees were real, the fraudulent accounts were never authorized by the owners.
Companies set targets without being mindful of how those targets might elicit unintended unethical behaviors – behaviors that are inconsistent with their core values. In bold letters under the heading, “Vision and Values”, Wells Fargo CEO, John Stumpf, states on the company website, “Everything we do is built on trust. It doesn’t happen with one transaction, in one day on the job or in one quarter. It’s earned relationship by relationship.” Well, it seems like Wells Fargo disregarded its relationship with millions of its customers.
Regulators are blaming the bank for not having tighter controls and oversight on employees’ behavior. But I seriously question if loose controls were the culprit. It seems like what was lacking was values-based leadership at the helm of this Wall Street behemoth. Research by myself and others demonstrates that the best leaders are those who not only emphasize meeting goals but also emphasize how those goals are met; for a values-based leader, a goal is only important to the extent that the company’s values are upheld in the process. Yes, setting goals is important for keeping employees motivated. But if those goals are achieved at the expense of the company’s values, then the achievement is more than shallow – it’s a major blemish to the company’s public image and trust.
Values-based leadership means that values are not just words but are translated into actions – actions including how targets are set and monitored. Targets are meant to be won or achieved. But in this situation, everyone involved – employees, the company, the customers, the banking industry – is a loser.
How DAI Approaches Goals
by Helen McAllister, Director of Marketing & Communications
After reading the above letter I was reminded of a conversation when I first began working at DAI. Having worked at a number of large corporations and non-profits, I was a bit surprised that DAI didn’t put as much emphasis on metrics as seemed standard in the industry. Isn’t the goal to show growth? Well, how do we show growth and impact without goals to exceed the previous years performance? Our President/CEO, Jane Overstreet, shared her concern that if we gave our ministry centers numeric goals they would be focused on the numbers instead of the relationships, and the real needs, in their area.
Instead, we empower our local leaders to set their own goals and then ask how we can support them to meet those goals. After receiving the annual reports from each ministry center, we saw 10% growth in the number of leaders served in 2015. Would 20% have been better? Not if it meant that we sacrificed the things we value most – the opportunity to influence leaders spiritual, work and family lives through sincere and honest relationships.
We trust God will take care of the numbers if we focus on serving Him and the leaders we work with. I’m grateful for DAI’s leadership and to be a part of an organization whose values are translated into actions.