Growing up, I recall certain family members making claims or giving advice that, I later found out, just weren’t true. Claims such as, if you cross your eyes they will get stuck, or don’t leave the cat alone around the baby because it will try to steal its breath. Sometimes these “lies” were meant to be funny and other times I’m not so sure.
Core Values – Always Noble, Not Always True
Leaders who understand the importance of core values take time to define them. But when the truth doesn’t jive with the words on the wall, it can lead to cynicism or apathy. To guard against this, it is helpful to understand the four types of values outlined in Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Advantage:
- Core: these are inherent in the organization. They have been apparent for a long time and should last into future. The are not based on trends or the external environment. You can tell if values are core to an organization if team members are intolerant of violations – they will confront colleagues and are willing to lose business to protect them.
- Aspirational: exactly as they sound, they are wished-for values and believed to be critical to success. With these, it is important to label as such so team members do not become cynical or apathetic. It is also important to recognize that they will take a lot of hard work to instill.
- Permission to Play: these values are minimum behavioral standards and are usually labeled with generic words like honesty, integrity or respect. They are still important for hiring and firing but aren’t special and won’t help with differentiation. They won’t make employees or customers feel differently about a company.
- Accidental: these values arise unintentionally, often from a few years of hiring people from the same background. It is important to recognize they exist because, over time, they can become part of the core. This may not be best for your organization.
Now that you know all four, what do you think about the stated values in your organization? Are they all really true? If you call them core, are they core or aspirational? Does stating them differentiate you or are they just generic platitudes?
- Article: How a Compelling Vision Can Increase Company Value
- Article: The Chameleon
- Article: Consistency and Agility
- Article: Trust and Trustworthiness
- Podcast: Building a Healthy Business
- Podcast: Bigger Than Ourselves
- Book: The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, by Patrick Lencioni
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