Values are the foundation of an organization’s culture. Where Great Purpose provides the source of energy and the answer to why we work, values guide how we work and make decisions. This guidance will be intentional, or it will be unintentional, because every organization has values.
The question is: “Will we choose the values that will guide us, or will we allow ourselves to be pushed around by the riptides of opportunity and crisis?”
The enterprise that says – “We don’t waste our time on things like values. We’ve got business to run!” – is showing us their values. Examine the pattern of decisions and you’ll know what their “values statement” should say.
The business that says it values integrity, but rewards the salesperson who brings in the most business (while cutting ethical corners), is displaying its values. The stated values are not real, of course, but the company still has values. By their fruit you will know!
Question: How do the greatest organizations in the world attract and keep extraordinary men and women who go above and beyond their job description every day in pursuit of the company’s success?
Answer: These great companies name what matters most to them so that they can then be intentional about how they work and make decisions.
Question: Why does identifying and defining a company’s core values, and then intentionally guiding the enterprise accordingly, attract and keep extraordinary people?
Answer: Human beings won’t give their discretionary effort – their imagination, heart, conviction, or honor – to a company that doesn’t mean what it says. Human beings will often do what is required to keep their job for a company that snubs its nose at values – the necessary minimum – because paychecks are needed for survival. But human beings won’t go the second or third or tenth mile for such an enterprise.
Question: What makes great companies great?
Answer: Human beings who go the second or third or tenth mile, without having to be told or asked.
Question: How do you get human beings like that?
Answer: You identify and define your values. And then you do two additional things, which I will address in the coming weeks.
“Identify and define your values” is the first of three parts found in the Serving Leader Action called Raise the Bar, which we model and teach in the The Serving Leader Development System. Becoming the kind of leader to whom men and women will bring their full humanity is learnable. The beginning of leadership wisdom is knowing just how important it is to become such a leader.