Oct 18, 2022

4 Strengths of Values

4 Strengths of Values

4 Strengths of Values

Nathan King

Corporate values often feel soft, decorative - like throw pillows on the couch. You move them aside for something more important.

But values are vital to organizational success. Here are 4 values dimensions to help you better orient your team around doing work that matters:

1. Values are verbs

Values direct all human behavior. They are essential to human psychology. One psychologist put it this way:

Values are behaviors. They are ways of living, not words...They are not the result of reasoning, outside pressure, or moral rules...Values are about things you want to move toward.

When organizations make them clear and actionable, they unleash coherent behavior.

2. Values are greater than data in ambiguous situations

Data is the exclusive determinant of decisions only in industries when all facts are known. NONE OF US work in such an environment.

Most of the time, we only have partial data. What organizational leaders value is what causes decision making.

3. When everyone understands values perfectly, the leader can fully delegate decision making.

When a business situation doesn't fit our policy or protocol, someone with good judgment must make the decision. This is usually the leader. Judgment depends on values. But when the team gets the values, then they can solve problems themselves.

Empowerment - when people know they have the agency to decide - is better for customers, for employee job satisfaction, and gives you time to spend on strategy.

4. Values become embedded through the stories leaders tell.

Sure, you can paint values on the wall. They sound great: "Honesty, Integrity, Innovation, Passion." But these are too abstract.

None of those values is "wrong." Bring them to life with concrete examples (that use verbs - see # 1 above):

  • Tell everyone a story about the time the procurement director acted with integrity when he declined the supplier's offer of a trip to a resort.

  • Put on your website the story about the account executive who acted with passion over a weekend to provide service to a customer impacted by a natural disaster.

Values are important in how they are used, not in what they say.




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