Maximizing Values: An LDR Alum Shows Us Why Organizational Values Matter

At LDR, we believe that effective leaders know their values and can clearly communicate them to others. Great leaders also live their values, a fact usually revealed in the predictability of their behavior. Domus, a Stamford-based human service nonprofit that supports more than 1,100 underserved youth in Stamford and New Haven, is an organization known for living out its values. Domus is also home to four exceptional LDR alumni. We spoke to one of them, Steve Paul (LDR-Fairfield, 2010), Dean of Students at Domus' Stamford Academy, about what it means to work, live, and lead with your values. 

LDR: What are the most important values at Domus?
SP: Our work is about the kids, we never give up on people, and we believe that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity. We believe that people should have many chances to learn and grow from their mistakes, and that loving relationships change people. These values are especially important in the work we do; we are serving the most vulnerable of our population, young people that have lived through trauma in its many forms.
 
LDR: What is an example of those values in action?
SP:  It can mean calling a student every morning to be on time to school for four school days straight without a response and finally getting them to school on time on the fifth day. It can also mean going on a home visit to meet with a student and their family because the family doesn’t have time or transportation to come to the school. Ultimately its about putting the student first. We understand that sometimes people, especially kids, will act out when in pain or traumatized and we forgive them for their actions in the moment.

LDR: How do the values of Domus inspire you personally and professionally?
SP: These values have become a way of life. At work, they help me teach valuable life skills that can change lives for the better. Personally, I am inspired to be a better person and to serve others wherever I am. I do so with a belief that with faith, hope, and some effort, there is a light at the end of every tunnel.
LDR: What has your experience been in leading to ensure the organization is driven by these values?  What’s the challenge in this?
SP: Our values sometimes go against instinct or what we've been socialized to do. That's why at Domus we embed our values in our language and have daily conversations around our core principles and values. It is something of a re-socialization; our values then become the norm-- they become instinct.
 
LDR: How does Domus keep team members accountable to the values of the organization? How do you keep each other accountable?
SP: In many ways: open communication, direct conversations, ongoing agency dialogues around core principles and values, and professional developments to understand what they mean and how to embody them in everyday work and life.

You can learn more about the great work Steve and Domus do here.