What are your core values?

Today I initiated a conversation with my senior team. I said that I felt we needed to have a clearer, more concise vision for the company. Having recently read Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’ Harvard Business Review paper entitled “Building Your Company’s Vision” it reminded me that too often a company’s vision statement is diluted because the wordsmiths have spent time on it. I therefore  repeated Collin’s and Porras’ view that

“a well-conceived vision consists of two major components: Core Ideology and Envisioned Future. Core ideology defines what we stand for and why we exist. The envisioned future is what we aspire to become, to achieve, to create – something that will require significant change and progress to attain.”

As a Rotarian I try to live my life according to the #Rotary four way test (Of the things we think, say or do:  Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?) “I therefore found it very easy to elucidate my own personal values:

  1. Maintaining integrity by always being truthful and honest.
  2. Avoiding greed, being open and fair to all.
  3. Doing the right things, in the right way, at the right time to ensure everyone benefits appropriately.
  4. Encouraging and rewarding hard work, great ideas and loyalty.
  5. Noticing the sacrifices that family members make to allow us to achieve.

We had a lively and stimulating discussion around the core values which I described as a small set of guiding principles that require no external justification. The team have been tasked with writing down their core values with a view to us then going on to agree a set of common values that will be the guiding principles of our firm. I will endeavour to provide the final agreed values in a later post. In the mean time, I would appreciate comments from everyone as to what they think our core values should be.

About Peter Borner

Peter is an entrepreneur and successful business leader. Currently leading a consultancy firm specialising in technical diligence for M&A and advising global firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies.

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Peter Borner
Peter Borner

Geoff, Thanks for the comment and to a large extent I agree with your views. However, in taking a few minutes to write down my core values I crystallised my understanding of the type of company I am trying to create and the type of people I want to work with. You are absolutely correct when you say that we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded people. In fact, the one change we have recently made is to make sure that the recruiters we work with understand these core values so that they sift out people that just aren't going to fit.

My blog post was more aimed at hearing what other peoples core values are. I am interesting in understanding how other successful leaders describe what's important to them. So, to that end, I would value hearing yours.


Geoff Crowley
Geoff Crowley

We all have some core values, even if we don't recognise the words to write them down. But is there a big advantage in writing them down.
I think this topic is getting overcooked as a fad. Remember MBO ( Not Management buyout! but Management by Objectives?), and other similar fashionable themes peddled by an increasing stream of consultants, specialists, and others? These things all have an element of truth, of usefulness, of sensibility; but they get built out of all proportion.
I know of many companies that have spent a lot of their hard earned profits in taking all their team away (remember "away days"), to pontificate over getting the wording of the "mission statement" right. Then they "roll it out", to the rest of the organisation, in the hope that this will transform the business.
Sometimes it does! In those cases I beleive it is because the management just started doing their job - managing by walking and talking, seeing, correcting etc. They dressed it up in the "program" they were implementing.

If we didn't have core values personally, then we'd be a rudderless ship, with erratic, and violent course alterations that defy reason. I think we all have such values if if they're not recognised.
So do we need to write them down (or today put them on our website, post them to LinkedIn, Facebook, tweet them?? No, just get on with life and let them giude our thoughts and decisions.
Do we need to make a list of them to compare with anothers, in order to "align our values"? No. Its not as mechanistic as that. It happens without being so obvious. We "like" some people, and "dislike" others. Why? Values not aligned. Did we need a written evaluation of the comparative values to do that?

So, what real benefit is there to have a written, recognised, agreed, compared set of core values? I suspect very little, except the by-product of the exercise that means listening to your people more that you did before.


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