"The very essence of leadership is that you have a vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet." - Former President of The University of Notre Dame
A powerful vision provides inspiration, challenge, and purpose. It gives meaning to your work and purpose to your business. Your business gives you a place where you can satisfy your need to achieve. Everyone's life needs a purpose, something important to strive for. One way to add both meaning and context to your vision is to establish values. Clearly defined values simplify decision making. They also help ensure consistency as well as ethical and behavioral congruency.
Value is a word that describes what each of us searches for in many different places. We look for value in what we purchase. We look for value in what we do, and for value in our relationships. Most of us would like to believe that there would have been some value to our life and to our accomplishments. In today's global and ever-changing business environment, values should play an important role in structuring, planning, and operating your business. Direction is provided in part by vision, which creates excitement, commitment, and purpose. Achievement and excitement must be tempered, however, by values lest people pursue goals without consideration for the ethics of other people. Values represent the core priorities in the organization's culture including what drives individuals and how they truly act in an organization. Therefore, another key element of a successful planning process is the organization's value statement. Throughout the life of the business, decisions must be made. Core values of the organization will lay the foundation and provide the framework for all decisions.
An organization's values create a foundation for integrity and they define the important truths that guide your actions. They will serve as a guidepost for all those in the organization who through their individual efforts will collectively achieve the organizational goals. Values are principles or standards by which we do business and are to be non-negotiable. As you think about crystallizing your values, consider what you know to be right as well as how you want to be known by others.
If the primary function of your business is to attract and maintain customers in order to generate long-term profits or financial viability, then issues such as meeting client or customer expectations, delivering quality service, etc., must be included in the values statement. Your values should take into consideration the importance you place upon each stakeholder in your business. By definition, a stakeholder is anyone who has the power to exert influence on your organization. It may be an individual, a group, or another organization. For example, your stakeholders could include your customers, your employees and their families, your stockholders, the community, licensing and regulatory agencies, or suppliers.
Some examples of value statements are:
- Improving the quality of life through technology and innovation.
- The company exists to alleviate pain and disease.
- To be regarded by our customers as easy to deal with and as a provider of high-quality, reliable products and services.
- Our first concern is for our customer, our second concern is for our employees, our third concern is for our management, our fourth concern is for our community, and our fifth concern is for our stockholders.
There are many companies in the media over the last several years that clearly operated and made decisions with no values and we are all aware of how it impacted people's lives. However, there are a lot of companies who have well defined values and make decisions with those values ever present. Chick-fil-A is closed on Sunday and they believe it is part of their recipe for success.
What value statement is your business defined by?