31 Days to Becoming a Better Leader


Day #3: Organizational Core Values

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or organization. These values dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong. Core values also help companies to determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their goals by creating an unwavering guide.

Take inventory of your personal values to be sure that you are in alignment with the organization’s core values.

This is also key for any team members – staff, boards, committees, volunteers, and other stakeholders. Developing the list of values using index cards or half sheets of copy paper (full sheets cut in half). Use a chart pad marker so the ink doesn’t bleed through. You can print core value statements on pieces of paper or index cards and sort them on a dining room table. If you have several people, I recommend purchasing “Storyboards” from an office supply company – that’s a report board, tri-fold 3×4 black surface. Purchase a can of repositionable spray mount and spray the boards until they are tacky enough to hold the papers. The boards are the focus of the group’s activity. You will use these boards again for other team planning sessions.

The advantage of using the boards over chart pads is huge. The person printing on a chart pad or white board must turn around and write on those surfaces turning their back on the group. This creates a vacuum in activity an over the course of a planning session amounts to a lot of unproductive, down time, which sucks the energy out of the room.

If you use the half sheets of paper and the storyboards, then each person prints on the sheets. You place those sheets on the boards. They are repositionable, so they can be sorted for relevance or grouped by topic and the positioned for priority. It’s a continually interactive process, which builds team synergy.

So, here is the routine for defining the core values of an organization.

  • Don’t start with a list of values from a consultant or expert – those aren’t your values and might limit your ideas. Make your own list and make it as long as you like
  • Ask participants to define what values or beliefs attracted them to the organization and, inversely what values, if missing would be a deal breaker for their participation. Direct them to “Print” those values on the papers or cards
  • Collect all the cards and place them on the storyboard
  • Ask if there are duplicates or ideas similar enough to combine for strength
  • Group value by relevance
  • Give each group a name
  • You have your core values, along with nuances defining those values more completely

Transcribe these on to a document and share with the group. This will then be a part of your overall strategy.

Building a high performing culture is based on common values and decisions are based on guiding principles, which I cover in the next session.

Next session #4: Guiding Principles

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