Your values are your true brand. I believe this without reservation. There is real power in clearly identifying and articulating your core mission and values, and making them a prominent behavior driver, both in your business and in your personal life. Two stories caught my eye this past week and they each take a different approach to placing emphasis on the importance of values and culture.
“People gravitate toward honesty.”
I might say it differently, but I agree generally. I think more specifically, people who value honesty, gravitate toward honesty. Thankfully, there are more people who value honesty than dishonesty. It’s how we’re wired. Too few companies, however, fully tap into this truth.
“The mission of our business, then and now, is encouraging consumers to consider their purchases carefully,” DoDo Case CEO, Craig Dalton wrote in Risky Ideas Turn Into Smart Businesses When Your Values Are Clear. “Our message had to ring clear: We preserve the art of bookbinding, create jobs in San Francisco, and make a product that people feel emotionally connected to. We are able to breathe freely, and act with total transparency simply because we have nothing to hide. As it turns out, people gravitate toward honesty, even (and maybe especially) if you are doing things ‘wrong’ on paper.”
“It’s not intangible or fluffy.”
Values are what stand behind corporate culture, and according to Shawn Parr, culture eats strategy for lunch. “Culture, like brand, is misunderstood and often discounted as a touchy-feely component of business that belongs to HR,” Shawn writes . “It’s not intangible or fluffy, it’s not a vibe or the office décor. It’s one of the most important drivers that has to be set or adjusted to push long-term, sustainable success. ” I couldn’t agree more.
Values are only intangible when companies relegate them to a poster in their lobby. Values are only fluffy when they fail to be given teeth to act as the filters for how decisions get made, for how a business moves itself forward. When stated values take a back seat to profits, when short-term gains and expediency unseat the values that connect a business to both its customers and its employees, they’re meaningless, if not harmful.
Better to never state your values than to proclaim values you never intend to live. When there is a clear disconnect between stated values and real values, the values our behavior communicates, companies create a dissonance that can become a cancer, internally and externally. But clearly stated values that are given real life inside an organization, top to bottom… that’s powerful stuff.
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Creative Commons photo via Flickr By quinn.anya