Core organisational values are the regard we hold for our organisation, the ideas we believe in about our organisation, and the meaning we attach to it.
Core values lie at the heart of our organisation identity, do not change over time, and cannot be contrived (Lencioni, 2012). While values are abstract, behaviours are concrete. Behaviours are actions we can literally see people doing as a manifestation or demonstration of their core values – our values. Because behaviours are demonstrated through actions, they are far easier to explain with clarity. In an organisational context, what is expected to be done, can more easily be understood and mutually agreed when values and behaviours align. One can actually see how someone is at the present moment by the behaviour they demonstrate. When we describe our culture in terms of the values our people believe in, encourage and acknowledge associated behavioural traits, it tends to resonate with people in a way that consciously influences their actions.
“Every individual and every organisation on this planet is involved in making decisions on a daily basis. The decisions individuals make reflect their personal beliefs about what they think is important. The decisions organizations make reflects the cultural beliefs about what the organization thinks is important. In other words, the decisions we make are a reflection of our personal and organizational values. When the values of an individual are the same as the values of their organisation, then there is a values alignment.” (Barrett Values Centre, n.d.)
“Executives spend too much time drafting, wordsmithing, and redrafting vision statements, mission statements, values statements, purpose statements, aspiration statements, and so on. They spend nowhere near enough time trying to align their organizations with the values and visions already in place. . . . . . . . In fact, the founders of great, enduring organizations like Hewlett-‐Packard, 3M, and Johnson & Johnson often did not have a vision statement when they started out. They usually began with a set of strong personal core values and a relentless drive for progress and had—most important—a remarkable ability to translate these into concrete mechanisms, mechanisms to bring their core values to life and translate them into action” Jim Collins, Aligning Action and Values.
When answering the question about why organisational health trumps everything else in business, Lencioni (2012) suggests that under a leadership discipline: creating clarity, that establishing the reason for your organisation’s existence (core purpose), behavioural traits (aligned with core values inherent in the organisation), and a clear and straight forward definition of what your organisation does. Clear and unambiguous statement of and alignment between why we exist, how we behave and what we do is then followed by how we succeed, what is important, right now and who does what.
With this relationship between purpose, core values and behaviours in mind, it may be obvious to form the association between core values and strategic imperatives – why we do what we do and how.
Barrett Values Centre. (n.d.). Why Values are Important. Retrieved February 9, 2020, from https://www.valuescentre.com/values-are-important/
Collins, J. (n.d.). Aligning Action and Values. Retrieved February 7, 2020, from https://www.jimcollins.com/article_topics/articles/aligning-action.html
Lencioni, P. M. (2012). The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business. San Francisco, CA: Wiley.