[April 24, 2015] One of the greater insights into management concepts over the past century was that rules cannot be created to cover everything in the workplace. The study of human psychology says that we all live and act according to values we hold most cherished. It follows logically that if we can clearly identify those the most important values, there will be less need to create rules in the workplace. And then by codifying core values we allow people greater freedom, personal satisfaction, and less pervasive oversight.
Of course, there is a long list of positive reasons why any business would want to write down their core values and then encourage their employees to live by them. I find this so important that I itemized the core values in a number of successful companies here in theLeaderMaker.com (search under “core values” for the full list) so that we can identify what helps them be a great company. As you read them, it doesn’t take long to see a pattern.
Extrapolating from this concept of core values, others have taken to codifying core principles and core codes of conduct. These help to guide us and act as a standard by which our behavior can be measured. They are something that rarely changes and thus becomes a bedrock in times of uncertainty and unpredictability. To illustrate, the U.S. military code of conduct sets standards for behavior that have endured the test of time (see link).1
No matter what we are doing, if we know and follow our core values, the right path should be clear. Besides, none of us have the time or inclination to learn every rule and regulation (which change regularly). When people in an organization are followers of their core values there is the additional benefit that they will experience a greater unity in all actions to make the company a greater success.
This is why we find that most businesses have taken steps to establish and codify their core values. With the right leadership, it helps them be successful.
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 It is of interest that on this date in 1863, on April 24th, the United States military issued General Order No. 100, providing for a code of conduct for Federal soldiers and officers when dealing with prisoners and civilians. Later, this code was borrowed by many European nations and its influence can be seen in the Geneva Conventions. The entire list of 157 articles are an interesting read (see link for complete list). The History Channel has a short article on General Order No. 100 at their website – http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/union-issues-conduct-code-for-soldiers