Discovering Core Values
As a family during our summer holidays we used to visit my grandparents in Lytham St Annes a seaside town near Blackpool, and a treat was to buy a stick of rock. To me Core Values are what’s written inside our stick of rock, those defining principles which go all the way through our core. Our values are foundational and directional declaring what we stand for and what motivates us. They set our boundaries, bring alignment with those we work alongside and give clients a picture of how we do our business.
Our values shouldn’t change that much over time whereas our vision is constantly being refreshed. Our values give us anchor points so that we can evaluate how we are performing and help us maintain a healthy culture and remain true to what counts.
However so often there can be a gap between the espoused values and the reality of life within any organisation and in time that will become clear to everyone. I don’t know about you but sometimes when I buy a product even a simple packet of biscuits, I feel disappointed even betrayed if I open the box and find that the size of the picture on the front bears little resemblance to the contents.
So how do we discover our values?
We can ask what motivated the formation of the organisation, or what makes us proud or gives us satisfaction. Another way is to consider what repels us. This can reveal what truly matters to us. So if we react strongly to poorly performing products, or impersonal service then that might demonstrate that we value quality and personal customer focus.
One more dramatic approach recommended by Henry J Evans founding partner of Dynamic Results is to consider whether we would continue expressing that value if it became illegal. For example if it became illegal to support our family would we be willing to break the law, even to take the risk of going to prison in order to adhere to that value.
Once we’ve settled on our most important Core Values (5 or less is good) it’s helpful to express them clearly so that they are memorable and carry impact, probably in a single word or a very short phrase. Then we can formulate a sentence or set of statements for each one which unpacks it so that it’s clear how that value will be expressed in our organisation.
Once clear our Values can guide our decision making and keep us on track. They can help create interview questions so that we engage staff that align with our values and we can use them to shape performance reviews. They can enable us to determine which clients we work with, so if caring for the environment is a top value then we are more likely to partner with those who have a well thought out sustainability policy.
Helen Manson (2013) established the CoRE Values Framework in Medical Ethics complimented by a practical scenario Grid to enable Medical Practitioners come to robust ethical decisions holding in balance the perspectives of different stakeholders and the ambiguities of everyday life. Using this framework consider the following aspects: Co – Codes of Professional Conduct, R – Regulations (i.e. the law) E- Ethical Principles and Values – the beliefs and ideologies of the key stakeholders.
To apply this to Hibbards Leadership Consultancy we follow the Global Code of Conduct from our professional body the Association for Coaching, we adhere to the Regulations set out by Companies House and HMRC. We follow the Ethical principles that flow from the beliefs and motivations of those who established the business and hold in creative tension Values relevant to coaching and supporting senior leaders, our primary clients.
We have limited our Core Values to 5. They express what we do and how we do it. Our Purpose is to support senior leaders and bring out the best in them. Each Value is combined with a Values Statement outlining in a little more detail what they mean in practice.
Space – We aim to provide a safe space where leaders can explore in confidence their vocation, their values and their vision. To wrestle with dilemmas, explore creative ideas and reflect on positive ways forward.
Support – We are committed to stand alongside those who take on the responsibility of leadership recognising that leaders bear weight and exercise great influence.
Significance – We respect everyone as significant and appreciate the unique role people play in creating a peaceful, prosperous and enriching society.
Service - We are passionate about serving others and aim to fully honour each person as an individual and bring out the best in them.
Sustainability – We seek to build long term relationships in order to help sustain the influence of leaders and enable them to leave a lasting legacy.
So that’s our Core Values, have you thought about yours recently?
If you would appreciate some support to define and implement your own Core Values gives us a call.