Your personal values are the principles that shape the way you see the world. In an ideal world, they’re the compass that guides your actions so you feel an alignment between them and your beliefs. Otherwise, you’d feel conflicted and unhappy.
Now, your organizational values are similar — except that they act at a larger scale. Companies often manifest their values through the causes they support, the way they hire and retain employees, and the way they communicate with customers or clients.
Whether these manifestations are intentional is another story.
Sadly, in many cases, companies think about their values when they’re working on the About section of their website — and nowhere else. Still, everything you do internally as a team is a living representation of the organization’s values.
Instead of being an afterthought, your organization’s values should be at the forefront of your objectives, your company culture and how your employees interact with each other and outsiders. And here’s how you can make that happen from a leadership position.
Identifying your organizational values
The first step to living your organization’s values is identifying them. To do this, you must identify where your company stands — not where you think it is or should be, but the current reality. If you have written values somewhere, pull them up as you dive in.
Speak to your vendors, employees, or partners and ask about their impressions of working with you. Take note of the words they use to describe you and the emotions that come up. Do they seem satisfied, grateful, frustrated?
Once you have a decent-sized sample, evaluate the responses with these questions in mind:
- Is the general perception positive or negative?
- Does this perception align with the values you have in writing?
- If not, how big is the disconnect?
- How can you correct courses?
With a clear picture of where you stand, it’s time to look at the future. You’ll want to evaluate whether your existing values still hold true. And if not, what needs to shift to get back on track. Where do you want to be and how can you embody those values to achieve your business objectives?
Weaving your values into what you do
Leading with your values means walking the walk.
A company culture that’s true to the mission, vision and values of the organization means using these as a guiding star for any initiative. You want to make sure that the goals you’re setting and the strategies you implement to reach them are true to who you are and the impact you set out to achieve.
If diversity is a core value, your staff and leadership team should reflect that. If you support a cause, your social responsibility initiatives should back this up. The way you treat your employees — and they treat each other — should convey the same message, whether that is respect, dependability, or excellence.
Keep in mind that your values aren’t fixed. They’re living, breathing organisms and will likely evolve over time. This is especially true for growing organizations. So you don’t want to just type them up somewhere and bury them in a drawer. Revisit them frequently and evaluate how you’re holding up to those standards.
Your values can drive the change you want to see
Many times, we don’t really reflect on the power our values can have on the way we act. What’s more — we often don’t realize how not embodying these values negatively affects us.
For example, every year on Women’s History Month, we see countless companies make endless grand statements and pay tribute to the women in their teams. But many of them still have a significant lack of representation in leadership. Many of them still have a pay gap and so on.
More than speaking about an issue or supporting it with words, once you let your values dictate your actions, you’ll realize that you have the opportunity to make a positive impact.
Do you feel misaligned between your organizational values and the path your company is traveling? Let’s strategize together. Book a discovery call below to discuss how we can bring clarity to your organization and achieve the impact you’re capable of.