Leaders and employees demonstrate the core values of a company. Most often, those lived values have no resemblance to the published values painted on office walls. Business core values may attract or drive customers away. For this reason, leaders need to evangelize the practice of their core values.
Many leaders believe that all they need to do is preach their core values repeatedly, and the desired culture will magically emerge. That’s the only tool they have. They don’t do anything to convert those values into action. Culture-shaping takes considerable effort.
What are core values?
Core values are deeply held beliefs that serve as guiding principles of an individual, organization, or community. It serves as a compass on your journey toward your vision. It tells you whether decisions and actions are acceptable or non-acceptable.
In organizations, everyone must act according to their shared core values. However, it is accepted that each individual may hold unique personal values. Likewise, teams and departments may also have different strategic values that guide their performance.
The HR, Finance, and Marketing departments may seem to follow different strategic values, but they all share common core values.
Identify Core Values
I help organizations identify, clarify, and commit to company core values. Some companies take it easy. They get some values from a list of 400.
But some values get picked more often. Values like trust, integrity, excellence and service are low-hanging fruits. So, it is not unusual to find organizations with contrasting cultures with the same values.
There is no one ideal right culture. The question is whether your culture is the right fit for your organization’s success.
To determine the right fit:
- Begin by identifying the values that matter to your organization’s success.
- Develop a plan to define how people behave based on core values.
- Engage your people to adopt those behaviors and live those values every day.
- Communicate your values through values statements.
List of Values
Creating a list of values is relatively easy. A dictionary can help us list a thousand. Steve Pavlina listed more than 400 of these values. James Clear selected over 50 personal values. You can go to any of these experts for a list of values.
I share my own list of values with my clients when they conduct strategic planning, culture-shaping (or culture change), and team building. They found it easier to define the terms as most values seemed to be significantly related.
I start with simple definitions, then expand the meaning by incorporating principles and behaviors.
If you are serious about creating or examining your organization’s core values, the following list may help you. Click each title if you want to get the definitions and some more stuff.
Clarify Core Values
It is important for organizations to help employees align their behaviors with company core values. Orientation to core values is important. However, it is often not enough.
Expressing core values into values statements is a necessary first step.
What are values statements?
Values statements are the most profound expressions of what your organization believes in and represents. It is the soul of your organization bare naked. Your values statements clearly communicate to your customers and employees what you stand for and what they can expect from you.
Your values statements explain the behaviors that demonstrate each of your core values.
Turning your core values into values statements will distinguish your company from other organizations that use the same word or phrase for their list of values.
Values statements prevent chaos and confusion. When values are clear and compelling, they become the basis of values-driven culture.
I collected a list of inspiring values statements from different organizations. Then, I revised some of these statements to make each one clear and compelling.
Examples of Values Statements
Two organizations can have ubiquitous values like excellence, integrity, service, malasakit, and leadership.
One time, I collected a list of values from a different organization. Without values statements, employees won’t be able to identify which set is theirs.
The problem with single words or phrases is that they could be subject to many interpretations. So, writing values statements that express your organization’s aspirations is crucial.
Many organizations have communication as a core value. They believe that the key to building better relationships, innovation, and progress is open and honest communication.
They encourage a trusting environment. They believe in empathy and being vulnerable. Read the following values statements for inspiration.
We’re open, clear, direct, and honest in our communications. If something doesn’t make sense, we ask questions. We operate with transparency by communicating internally and externally with unwavering sincerity, honesty, and respect.
Our differences strengthen our teams, and our trust and respect for each other infuse passion into everything we do. Some who are open consider alternatives and look at things differently. Opening our minds and combining our diverse backgrounds, experiences, world views, and expertise make us savvier problem solvers and drive better results.
We communicate directly, share feedback at all levels, and engage in debate while maintaining our objectivity.
We speak up and listen. We bring passion and energy to work, knowing that active participation is essential to creating better outcomes.
We value those who speak thoughtfully, encourage and respect the diversity of opinions and listen carefully with an open mind.
We work with respect and consideration: We will move fast and deliver, and we will do it the right way.
We’re big fans of transparency for many reasons, but the abridged version is: it makes everything we do SO much easier.
In recent years, many organizations emphasize the value of loving our customers. Customer focus and customer-centricity became a byword in many customer service training programs.
Today, we talk about touchpoints, wow moments, and customer experience journeys. May the following statements inspire you to embrace customer-centricity as a core value.
Help customers succeed.
Create wildly successful customers by doing whatever it takes to enable our champions to be transformational leaders and their staff to be superstars.
Get It Done
Clients trust us to build things that work, and we take that seriously. Our team will overcome obstacles, find solutions, and deliver exceptional results.
Our company exists to help customers succeed. We make every decision and measure every outcome based on how well it serves our customers.
We treat our customers the way we want our families to be treated.
We understand our colleagues’ and clients’ needs and consistently exceed expectations.
Connect with customers, partners, consumers, and each other to drive success. Relationships deliver results because we can’t do our jobs without each other.
Start With the Consumer
The consumer is our top priority. And every day, we’re hyper-focused on making them love our products and services. So someone who embraces this value makes every decision, no matter how big or small, with the consumer top of their mind.
They put themselves in the consumers’ shoes and make their experience better.
Our growth is based on mutual success. When our customers and our employees grow, we grow.
We do whatever it takes to delight our partners. We support and share responsibility with the members of our team.
We obsess over customer needs. We value ALL interactions with our customers and—by partnering with them to understand and analyze their needs—we build solutions that they love.
Cultivate Raving Fans
We create Raving Fans for our customers and for each other. If our customers aren’t raving about our people and our products, we have not achieved the level we strive for.
Wow Every Customer
Put the consumer at the center of everything we do. Surpass expectations every time.
Deliver Amazing Client Experiences
We continue to strive toward mastery in everything we do. We believe there is more to the job itself – we invest in the whole person and develop our people with that in mind.
Excellence and success are two words that are often confused. Success is the result, and excellence is the process. Many organizations believe that excellence is a means to sustainable success.
The following statements demonstrate how some organizations express excellence in their work environment. May these statements inspire you to embrace excellence as a core value of your organization.
We do challenging work and achieve incredible things. We always take the time to celebrate excellence. We like to celebrate the big and the small. We clap. And cheer. All the time. Like really. Clap. Your. Heart. Out.
I recommend that you read Personal Excellence.
Achieve The Extraordinary
Life is too short to settle for the ordinary, so we commit to doing something singular, something unexpected, something no one else has done or dared to do.
We hire extraordinary people. You can move sideways, you can move up, and there are always new opportunities to learn.
Refuse to Settle
We are constantly developing, testing, and improving to deliver the best experience to our customers. We never settle because we believe there’s always an opportunity to do better.
Evolve and adapt
The people that work here are smart, and smart people know you can always get better. So mistakes are even ok as long as you learn something from them.
Make something better today.
We’re hungry, passionate, and love challenging problems and new challenges. You don’t hear many “I don’t know how” or “I can’t.” Instead, when faced with a hurdle, we jump.
Focus On The Outcome
We choose speed. We make thoughtful decisions quickly, execute them with intensity, and simplify where we can.
When we focus on the outcome, the journey will map itself out. And it may be different every time. So we embrace learning curves; innovate, iterate, err, improve, repeat.
We deliver outstanding results by establishing a culture of exceptional execution and rewarding those who create excellent outcomes.
Make a Difference Every Day
We constantly push ourselves to be our best, focus on solutions, and arrive every day inspired to make an impact through our talents, passion, and hard work.
We commit ourselves to continuously improving our performance and pushing through our comfort barriers.
Bring your ‘A’ Game
We hire intelligent people with an aptitude for learning and provide the space (and tools!) to grow and be successful. We expect that everyone brings their ‘A’ game and participates in the programs that we have available, with the vision that we all are taking the lead on continually growing our capabilities.
Aim for Greatness
We love people who aim for greatness. They inspire and excite their teammates, raising the bar for all of us. Let’s talk more about it in 25 Effective Ways to Build Successful Teams
Work with Passion
We take pride in our work and bring our A-game to all interactions. We encourage rigorous discourse and never settle for anything but the best.
I recommend you go to Passion for Excellence. Share the guide with your team too.
Get It Done Values
Get it done
Clients trust us to build things that work, and we take that seriously. Our team will overcome obstacles, find solutions and deliver exceptional results.
Build Social Value
We focus on creating real value for the world — every day and in everything they do.
Have Fun Values
Enjoy the Journey
We make sure our team feels appreciated and valued. We take the time to stop and acknowledge where we came from, not to miss the impressive climb.
We laugh. We are grateful, positive, and hospitable. We make people feel good.
We seek to understand with curiosity and vulnerability.
Pausing to ensure we’re finding peace and joy along our journey is invaluable to sustainable and lasting success.
We never turn down a reason to celebrate. We get a lot done and have fun along the way.
This isn’t just a job; it’s a calling, and we love it!
We believe in having fun in and out of work. So we’ve created a space where playful creativity can thrive, whether it’s taking a break together to enjoy a delicious lunch, coffee company outing, or competing in the monthly gathering.
Creativity and Innovation Values
Find A Better Way
Every day, we build a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.
We are constantly seeking personal and professional growth.
Evolve and Adapt
The people that work here are bright and intelligent people who know you can always get better. So mistakes are even ok as long as you learn something from them.
We never settle — in everything we do, we challenge our ideas of what’s possible to better meet the needs of our customers.
We seek out, embrace, and get (un)comfortable knowing that if we’re not continuously changing, evolving, and improving—we’re falling behind.
Believe it’s Possible.
We create a lasting and positive impact within our communities and industries. When we work hard, stay focused, and act in service to others.
We imagine new possibilities. We want to be ahead of what’s possible.
Change The Game
Deliver innovation that matters. Be what’s next.
Embrace And Drive Change
There’s always a better way—and we won’t rest till we find it.
We believe in a workplace where you’re safe to try new things—where we can push the boundaries of the norm and learn from things that don’t always go according to plan. We strive for a just and blameless culture that respects people as individuals and paves the way to genuine learning and improvement.
Everyone is an Innovator
We think differently. Innovation is in our DNA. We look for everyone to be a leader and innovator, despite roles or titles, and we develop all levels using various learning tools. We recognize that innovative companies will hit road bumps and embrace the learning components that arise.
We value original thinking, the passion for attacking complex challenges, and thoughtful feedback – openly giving and receiving it. Our mantra here is, “Why not?”
We optimize our products and grow our people by fostering experimentation and iterating on ideas.
We always strive for excellence and are unconstrained by the way things have always been done. We creatively approach every task and obstacle to find original solutions.
Make A Difference Values
Make a Difference Each Day
We constantly push ourselves to be our best, focus on solutions, and arrive every day inspired to make an impact through our talents, passion, and hard work.
We work smartly, take care of our team, and have fun to ensure the sustainability and success of our organization.
Focus on Impact
To make the most impact, we solve the most critical problems. We expect employees to avoid wasting time on minor issues and focus on significant challenges.
We Are Owners
Every day, we take the initiative—with integrity and courage—to make our company better.
Every employee has the power to make our company better. Think like customers, act like owners.
We operate with honesty and integrity. When we see a problem, move to solve it.
We hold ourselves accountable for our choices and results.
We love positive energy in the office. We need it—happy people are more efficient and creative. So if 6 PM improv classes or midday gym sessions make you happy, and we will support you.
We Take the Long View
When you join us, you’re stuck with us. We hired you for you, not just for this job. We know the best people move up and often go on to start their own companies. We want to help you get where you want to go.
Pausing to ensure we’re finding peace and joy along our journey is an invaluable component to sustainable and lasting success
We lift our customers and teammates through positivity, confidence, and graciousness.
Empathy and kindness go a long way in a competitive landscape full of talented people. Pivots have built a culture where inclusion and respect are a defining part of our identity.
We’re growing fast, and with the company’s growth comes the professional development of the individuals in our team. So we encourage everyone to level up in their careers.
Support and Win
We empower others to succeed, and we all win.
Simplicity & Speed Values
We choose speed
We make thoughtful decisions quickly, execute them with intensity, and simplify where we can.
We believe it’s better to move fast and make mistakes than to move slowly and miss opportunities. Doing so enables us to build more things and learn faster. Tackle challenges without delay. Test, learn, repeat.
If we see an issue, we fix it. If we see an opportunity to accelerate our success, we take it.
Cut the clutter. Less is more. One beautiful, well-made product is better than many mediocre ones.
Be A Great Team
We’re not just here to take a journey; we’re here to share one because the impact we have is always more remarkable when we work together.
We carry the load together by building purposeful relationships grounded in cooperation and a shared vision.
We Work Together
We’re a community with a natural bias toward action and collaboration. We work openly and cross-functionally because it enables us to build relationships, figure things out, and win as a team.
Be an ambassador
We are proud to be problem solvers. We like the people we work with – coworkers, managers, clients – and genuinely enjoy helping one another succeed.
Play for each other
We’re a team. That means we show up for each other, act with empathy, and bring our authentic selves to work every day. We’re growing this company, not for our gain but for each other.
Team on a mission
We are made up of amazing individuals, but it’s only through teamwork that we achieve greatness. We’re committed to helping our customers by working together with equal parts humility and ambition.
Put Team First
With empathy and humility, we seek win-for-all solutions.
Support Each Other
We are committed to building an encouraging, caring, and supportive environment. We share a responsibility to support our team members and enrich their lives.
We are all builders
We are collectively building the product and company of our dreams.
We want passionate collaborators dedicated to improving the health and happiness of the world.
Achieve Excellence Together
We collaborate and celebrate. Drive forward as a team toward our mission.
We play to win and openly discuss options when our goals compete. We
unite to deliver results for our company and customers.
Our greatness comes from unlocking each other’s potential. We believe
that seeking and giving feedback is essential for us to learn; we want to
inspire each other to achieve great things. As each individual grows, so does the whole organization.
Our whole is greater than the sum of our parts. We value the team over the individual; how we get things done is as important as what we achieve. Our success is driven by our ability to build relationships, break silos and connect across teams, functions, and geographies.
Communicate Core Values
One-word core values are easy to remember. Values statements, on the other hand, communicate the soul of organizations.
Values statements must be clear, direct, and inspiring. But many companies do not have value statements. That’s because it is easy to pick four to six values from a list and declare them the core values.
Choosing values that correspond to the acronyms of their companies makes them sound smart too.
It is smart to use acronyms. People can easily remember acronyms. But make sure the acronym represents who you are as an organization.
Without clear and inspiring values statements, your employees and customers have to speculate what you stand for and who you are.
May these examples of values statements inspire you to revisit your core values. May your values statements encourage you to walk the talk and talk the walk.
Write Your Values Statements
It is easy to pick five words that sound good together. Your core values are shared beliefs. It is an agreement on how each one will behave in the lifetime of your organization.
The best demonstration of your values is your actions. So, people say you must lead by example, to walk the talk.
I agree. And I also believe that you need to talk about the walk. People need to know what you really mean.
Some organizations call their values beliefs. Others use the word principles. However you call them, you need to communicate what they mean to your organization, employees, and customers.
The steps are simple. Identify your core values, explore better ways to explain each through values statements, and list all the crucial behaviors which are aligned — and not aligned to each.
Then, set your example through your words and actions.
Quotes About Values
Quotes often contain truths in capsules. These are wisdom gained through experiences. So, I usually look for quotes that may help my readers.
Some quotes I agree and some I don’t. But my disagreement does not make a quote less valid.
Read these quotes and think about the truths they share.
“Values aren’t buses… They’re not supposed to get you anywhere. They’re supposed to define who you are.”
― Jennifer Crusie
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden
“Tell me what you pay attention to, and I will tell you who you are.”
― José Ortega y Gasset
“Your time is way too valuable to be wasting on people that can’t accept who you are.”
― Turcois Ominek
“A highly developed values system is like a compass. It serves as a guide to point you in the right direction when you are lost.”
― Idowu Koyenikan, Wealth for All: Living a Life of Success at the Edge of Your Ability
“Before you call yourself a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or any other theology, learn to be human first.”
― Shannon L. Alder
“Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth – don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.”
Best Articles to Read About Values
- Pagpapahalaga In this article, I talked about personal values, how it is formed, and how you can decide which values to cultivate.
- 30 Filipino Values. Values are personal, organizational, and cultural. Business core values are agreements about how you behave during the lifetime of your organization. On the other hand, Filipino values were shaped by our practices – by what we encouraged and tolerated through time. Some Filipino companies include Filipino values like malasakit, bayanihan, and makatao to their core values.
- Malasakit: The Filipino Culture of Caring for Others. Your employees will provide authentic customer service when they value malasakit. Find out how.
- Leadership Principles. Leaders need to be clear about what they believe in. These leadership principles are values statements too.
- To Lead by Example. Because of your clear and inspiring values, people set examples through their words and actions. I discussed how you could evangelize your values.
- 12 Companies with Exceptional Core Values. Do you need more examples? Achievers offered examples of company values. What’s missing, however, are examples of their values statements.
We have just enjoyed exploring examples of value statements. I encourage you to revisit your core values. Start with your team if you cannot do it as a whole organization.
Ask them how you can express your values in clear and inspiring statements. Please encourage them to be bold and brave in communicating your company’s ideals.