In my last few articles I have been sharing valuable growth tools from Gazelles International and the Rockefeller Four Decisions, ones I have been using as a consultant with leadership teams who want to create greater effectiveness and profit within their organizations.
In “How Do Core Values and Purpose Create Collaborative Teams and High Performance Results?” I introduced the idea of Core Values as foundational for strategic thinking and execution planning. Today I’m delving deeper into this foundation and providing some suggestions for insuring the values you espouse in the business are truly core and reflected in your business environment and objectives today.Core values can always be strengthened, but it’s important to remember that they are not values to aspire to, but rather values that are already present.
The key to having the Inside Advantage for growth is Engagement. You create greater engagement by regularly evaluating your core values, and by bringing them forward, consistently, to the entire organization. This, in turn, brings forward leaders you may not have been able to identify in the past and overlooked as key contributors. By identifying and spotlighting these leaders you increase the organization’s ability to move forward.
Lately, I have been working with an operations leadership team in a manufacturing unit of a large global business, as well as with a CEO who heads a mid-sized business in Europe. In both cases the exercise of looking at core values increased engagement, and provided them the opportunity to reflect on the leadership qualities of team members who had much to contribute.
It is important to convey the importance of core values, and how they are foundational to success of the organization, from strategic planning, to goal setting and implementation. Show how they are alive in the business now, and communicate the expectation that they are to be reflected in the work of each person in the organization. Make sure the values are clear so they can be easily stated by every employee.
In the large business mentioned above, there have been core values in place for almost a hundred years, that were recently updated by the headquarters leadership team. Yet, as we sat in our team meeting, the leaders present realized they did not see how these values could be owned, and then actioned, by the local team of leaders, managers and front line employees. So I presented them with a Core Value exercise which included time for each leader to think of their team members and managers in the organization, and identify those who reflect the key qualities and actions that are essential and intrinsic to successful performance and teamwork.
The following is the breakdown of the exercise which will help you identify and communicate your Core Values:
- Allow your leaders time to reflect on their team and ask them to identify five people in the organization regardless of their role who contribute and who are effective performers. Do the same yourself.
- As you and your team think of those people, clearly state what it is that they bring to the table or that they contribute on a regular basis.
- Once you have a sense of the contribution, state that in a value sentence. Once each leader has done this process, bring them together to share thoughts. From this you create five values that are dominant and use those as your Core Values.
- As you do this exercise, imagine that language is no longer a way to communicate these values. Instead they can only be communicated through demonstration. Make sure the people you name are truly demonstrating the values through both their actions and communication.
Some good examples of demonstration given by one of the leaders above were:
1. Taking ownership
2. Being accountable for results
3. Have an agenda for growth
The larger business I mentioned above, felt this was a great exercise because people in the department, no matter what their role, were highlighted and discussed in a new way as demonstrators of important core values to the business.
In the mid-size business in Europe, an awareness of where to place recognition and development was gained, helping the business create a more sustainable structure for growth.
This is a small introduction to a very large and valuable aspect of growing your business, with more to come! In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions or experiences you’d like to share about the important value of recognizing and using core values as the foundation for strategic thinking and scaling up your business. I’d enjoy hearing from you! – Patricia