How would you describe the core values of your team in order to bring to life the culture you want?
If you winced or rolled your eyes when you read the phrase “core values,” hang with me.
Unfortunately, some of your reaction is for good reason.
You see, the exercise to determine your Mission/Vision/Values has not always been handled well by teams and organizations. Many have just gone through the motions to create them and then slap them up on the wall with a fancy poster. They put them up there because every organization “has to have them.”
But I’m not talking about doing these things out of some sort of obligation in order to look more like a team or legitimate operation.
When I talk about the language that drives behavior and creating core values or guiding principles, I’m not talking about a poster. I’m talking about a tool.
When I lead teams through this exercise, it is to unearth the values that are meaningful and significant to them. It doesn’t matter what I think their values should be or what some other outside consultant thinks they should be. Our job is not to give you your values, but to unlock your thinking and guide you through the process to discover your values.
Your values are YOUR values. The best teams engage their people to participate by identifying and owning their values. And what I mean by the values being a tool and not merely a poster on the wall is that you and your team begin to leverage the language to drive the behavior you want.
We articulate core values to get us all looking in the same direction—a compass to guide not WHAT we do, but HOW we do it. How do you and your teammates want to commit to showing up at work? How are you committed to traveling together?
The best teams gain clarity on their core values and articulate them with precision. They don’t just say “Integrity” or “Innovation” or “Excellence.” They take the next step to link the value to specific behavior and action so that it’s clear what integrity, innovation, or excellence look like on their team.
The precise language is a compass to guide the thinking, acting and interacting they want to foster in their culture.
And when the language is not clear, anything goes. When you haven’t gained clarity around your values and how they come to life on an everyday basis, then you can’t be surprised when the values don’t exist in action. You’re stuck in thermometer mode.
Jason V. Barger is a globally celebrated keynote speaker, leadership coach and author of Thermostat Cultures, Step Back from the Baggage Claim and ReMember. He is founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, a Columbus-based company that works with businesses and organizations worldwide. Connect with Jason online at www.JasonVBarger.com, via email at jason@JasonVBarger.com or on social media at @JasonVBarger.
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