You know when you run into someone from high school and the conversation just pulls you back to your teenage years? Even hearing a song from our youth can stir up thoughts and feelings from decades past. The experiences, thoughts and actions from our past can reveal some interesting clues about who we are, bone deep.
When our leadership team reviewed the book, Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, I began the process of thinking back to when I was a very little boy and looking over my life. My purpose was to tap the power of introspection to determine, “who am I?”
Have you ever tried to introspectively look at yourself to figure out “who you are?”
I can tell you it was not an easy process. I wasn't used to this level of thinking about myself.
I learned that this exercise is not a “knock it out in one morning” type of task. It is like peeling back an onion, one layer at a time. Determining your core values is a process, not an event.
I also learned that you do not “set” your core values. You have to (and can) discover them!
Every leader can discover “Who Are You?” by understanding three fundamental truths.
What are Core Values?
I like Jim Collins' definition of core values:
“Core Values are the organization’s essential and enduring tenets – a small set of general guiding principles; not to be confused with specific cultural or operating practices; not to be compromised for financial gain or short-term expediency.”
What Core Values are NOT
The process to discover your Core Values is NOT figuring out what:
- Will maximize your wealth
- You read in a management book that sounds good
- You consider to use as a marketing campaign
- Beliefs that will please the financial community
- Will look good printed on glossy paper
- Is most popular to say
- Outsiders say the Core Values should be
What finding your Core Values requires
The process to discover your Core Values requires:
- Authenticity – getting real, nothing added for public agreement
- Introspective reflection – What do I stand for? What am I all about?
- Articulating what is inside; bone deep – those things that are as natural as breathing.
Remember this is a process not an event.
It boils down to: “Who Are You?”
The core values of an organization usually come from the top of the top of the organization, e.g. founder, the owner, the CEO, or even the department head. In future blog posts, we’ll keep “peeling back the layers” on this important topic.
Have you discovered any of your core values? If so, take a minute to share one of them in the comment section of this blog post, I’d like to know!