[January 17, 2018] A chance meeting last week with a young man who worked at a local retail store brought back some thoughts on core values and their importance. The man, I’ll call him Jason but not his real name, had been let go from his employment when the company permanently closed. I asked him what the company did and what were their core values.
Interestingly, Jason was detailed in the description of what they did; selling air conditioning and heating units to installers. But he could not tell me anything about the company’s core values or anything to do with what was considered valued. I’m sure that alone was not the reason for the company’s business failure but it certainly played a part.
Core values are, by definition, those driving forces behind a company or person. We tend to use the term core values as directly referring to an organization only … but I argue that it also applies to people as well. Values are at the heart of what any organization and its employees stand for in the world. Those values tell us a lot about them.
“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” – C.S. Lewis, British novelist, poet, academic, and theologian
I’m no longer shocked at the many organizational leaders that fail to articulate clearly their core values. For examples of those that do, you can read about them in my blog at theleadermaker.com and search under “core values” which will return a number of classics. In addition, there are some who do a good job of codifying their values but are remiss when it comes time to ensure their employees know, understand, and believe in those values.
When you know your values and those values are part of one’s being, it makes decisions much easier and it provides us with independence and freedom that is unimaginable to those who are guided only by rules and regulations. Perhaps that is why U.S. military leaders – in one of the most structured organizations – are so adamant that we learn and internalize their core values.
Jason now works at a Wawa convenience store as a manager trainee. He called me last night to say how he enjoyed working at a place where he understood what the organization was about (valuing people and delighting customers) and how much their values aligned with his own (doing things right and doing the right thing). He is a person who has a passion for winning.
If we are to be employed by someone else or to create our own business, the alignment of values is important to the overall success of business and individual. There should be no surprise to those that study leadership that core values matter and that the best leaders ensure we know and understand them.
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