For years I have read books about business and leadership. I read Tom Peters’ book, In Search of Excellence in 1989. I did not know it at the time, but that book started me on a journey that would ultimately transform the way I ran my business.
One of my main take-a-ways from the book was the importance of a companies’ “beliefs”.
I was so moved by this concept, that I pulled some ideas from the book and compiled our own statement of beliefs. This new statement, entitled “Our Beliefs”, contained eight key beliefs that I gleaned from the book.
As the years went by, when we had company-wide meetings, I would go over “Our Beliefs” with our people. I understood we needed to be reminded of them, and we always had new people that came on-board who had not heard them before.
In the mid-1990’s, we introduced Our Purpose and Our Vision statements, and it was not too many years after that we introduced what we called Our Super Objectives.
Something was Wrong
My leadership team and I would highlight these high-level statements at our company-wide meetings. We even tried to illustrate that all the other statements fell within the all-encompassing “Our Beliefs” statement.
As a leader, I knew it was my job to define and champion the beliefs and purpose of the organization. But something stirring within me gave me a sense that “Our Beliefs” statement was not right.
I stopped using “Our Beliefs” statement at our company-wide meetings because I knew something was missing.
In the Fall of 2004 and during the non-peak season of our business, our leadership team was doing our annual book review to stimulate personal growth.
We reviewed the book, Good to Great, by Jim Collins. He went to great lengths to explain his finding that Core Values were key to an organization’s success.
Jim Collins explained that our company Core Values needed to reflect “who I was” as the leader of the organization.
Collins also said, “…core values are essential for enduring greatness, but it doesn’t seem to matter what those core values are. The point is not what core values you have, but that you have core values at all, that you know what they are, that you build them explicitly into the organization, and that you preserve them over time.”
I was beginning to sense that this concept of core values was related to my failed attempt at “Our Beliefs” statement.
At this stage, I had a lot more to learn, about myself and about the importance of Core Values.
Every leader can start this journey by asking one simple question.
Leading and growing an organization can be down right hard. But, I’ve learned that there are some fundamental principles that can serve as guideposts to clarify your direction and focus your attention.
Any journey starts with the first step, and I discovered that the first step to success starts with a question.
Could I ask you perhaps the most important question you’ve ever been asked?
Who are you? Bone deep, who are you?
Your answer may have more impact on your business than anything else!
There’s more to this journey, and it leads to some pretty phenomenal results. I'll continue to share about my journey to discover my Core Values in my next blog post.