In business, whether an organization achieves success is determined by many different factors. Its purpose, mission and vision are important. But the factors that bring it all together and can make or break an organization are its core values. Like a compass, core values will help you navigate through challenging times and even act as anchors in the midst of uncertainty.
The most successful companies emphasize their core values throughout their organization, and they don’t just talk the talk — they walk the walk. Integrity, honesty, respect, inclusion, health and accountability are all core values that look great on paper, but they mean absolutely nothing if you’re not acting on them in your daily life. Authenticity is everything when establishing core values. Not only will it assure that what you say and do are in alignment, but it will also help establish trust among employees and create a company culture people want to be a part of. So, how do you go about setting authentic core values?
Related: 5 Core Values Your Company Needs to Put into Action Now
1. Start with introspection
Looking within is key to establishing authentic core values. This isn’t going to be a quick process. You’re going to have to take the time to figure out what is truly important to you. There are many different exercises you can do to help with this. One of them is to list and rank your core values. This ranking is based on not only what you believe your values to be but what you actually practice on a daily basis. In ranking your values, you may quickly come to realize that what you say they are and what you actually do may be misaligned. If you’re really driving for authenticity, it’s important to build a plan to bring your core values together in reality.
For many people, this will also require checking in with family, peers and colleagues to see how you are showing up in relation to those core values. It’s one thing to say to yourself that you have authentic core values, but are you actually presenting them to the world? You have to make sure that what you say and do are in tune with one another. Many people think they are welcoming and open-minded, but in reality, to others, they may come off as dictatorial, close-minded and difficult. You’ve got to hold up that mirror and really evaluate how you’re appearing to others.
2. Embrace vulnerability
One of the biggest challenges leaders face when trying to establish core values is people questioning them, both personally and professionally. People will ask, Are you just doing that to appease the masses? To appear like a good leader? An empathetic leader? Or as though you care?
This is where vulnerability is really required. Leaders have to be vulnerable and open about what they face as individuals and what they hope to bring to their organizations. There will be a great deal of feedback, good and bad, and you’re going to have to work through it. That requires tremendous vulnerability. You’ll need the support, help and feedback of everyone in your ecosystem because the fact is everyone has to commit to these values. Establishing real values doesn’t come with a snap of your fingers or a flip of a switch. It’s a journey that requires active participation on everyone’s behalf.