5Let Values Be Your Guide

Roy E. Disney was quoted as saying, “It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” To me this quote sums up why every leader must have a deep understanding of their company’s values, commit to live by them, and convey them to employees. Every day leaders and employees make one decision after another on behalf of the company. Something needs to guide those decisions. That “something” is values. They are your company’s compass.

Values tell everyone how to behave—what to do, what not to do, and where the boundaries are. When everyone clearly understands and agrees to live by a set of values, it pushes decision making downward. Employees know what the rules are. Everyone speaks to customers in a unified voice. All of this promotes alignment and consistency. In the end, the company enjoys better performance.

In his book Built to Last, Jim Collins examined companies that last a long time compared with those that do not. The research showed that values play a critical role in organizations that are able to attain and sustain success.

Values go a long way toward shaping and sustaining a strong company culture. They have a major influence on a person’s behavior and attitude and serve as broad guidelines in all situations. I have found that once an outcome or behavior is connected to values, a person will follow through even if it makes them uncomfortable. After doing the behavior for a while, what was uncomfortable becomes comfortable. ...

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