I have an allergy. Whenever I hear leaders talk about the values of their organization, and then observe them act in ways that are in direct opposite to those values, I start to feel an itch.

That discrepancy between words and actions is a demotivating force that not only makes people feel less safe, but also has them questioning their relationship with their place of work and the leaders who run it.

Trust is ruined when we claim to be about something and then prove that it’s not true. And trust is a fundamental factor for employees wanting to stay with you, and for customers considering, trying and buying from you.[1] When it comes to repeat purchases, sustained trust – by having delivered according to your promise – is crucial.

There is vast potential in letting your values come alive:

  • They have the power to transform the relationships within and outside of the organization.
  • Research shows that organizations with strong cultures and shared values drastically outperform others in the long-term[2]
  • … and that the key shared commonality among sustained (100 years or more) top performing companies within their market is a shared purpose.[3]

Creating alignment between what you say and what you do requires effort, but it’s one that I encourage all my clients to make. Time and effort invested in clarity today is money made tomorrow.

The process involves asking key questions around the very existence of your organization and co-creating the answers together. Prioritizing and putting the processes and quality points in place, keeping in mind that every moment is a moment of truth for your employees, clients and partners.

6 questions you can ask yourselves to start uncovering the true values of your organization:

  1. What are we about as an organization?
  2. What do we believe is important?
  3. What is the impact that we want to make?
  4. What is the experience that we want to create for our customer, partners and co-workers?
  5. What is the transformative journey that we want to take our clients on?
  6. What is the culture that we would like create within the organization?

Once you know the answers to these and other fundamental questions, you can begin to prioritize and create the foundation for making your values come alive – not through pretty words in your mission statement, but through tangible and consistent action.

And with that, the itch will magically disappear.

[1] Paul Jarvis, Company of One, (Great Britain: Penguin Random House UK 2019).
[2] James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (New York: Harper Collins 1994).
[3] John P. Kotter and James L. Heskett, Corporate Culture and Performance (New York: Free Press, 1992);