Every entrepreneur, founder, director, CEO or board member has a reason for the creation of their organisation or is directed on the basis of a certain vision. The vision of an organisation is why the organisation exists. Based on their vision, organisations also describe their mission and core values as a second step. While the vision is the north star of the organisation, giving them direction, the mission explains how they want to achieve the vision. Core values of an organisation describe what is important for the organisation on a day to day basis. They can be interpreted as the organisational guideline for individuals and teams to base their decisions on.
Acting based on what you believe in
It is common to print, explain and hang these values around the office. Sometimes organisations repeat them at their all-hands or townhall meetups rather than just printing them out in the hope to inspire their team to act upon those. But what most leaders tend to forget is that not the values hanging on walls or repeated in their communications are the real values of the organisation.
We decide on the real values we want to act upon on a daily basis. Those are influenced by external factors, such as the quality of our sleep or the way we are treated on the way to work, but also by internal factors such as how we decide to react to those daily challenges. So written values on the wall are only effective if we as leaders set a role model on how to decide to act. Values are determined not only by how we want our organisation to react but also by the interactions and negotiations between the daily cooperation within teams. It is impossible to convince your team members in discussions to buy in on your values; it is the way we cooperate with and treat this person on a daily basis that sets the example for them.
“Your values start with why”
The natural way of an organisation to decide on its values is mostly inspired by the activities the organisation provides. According to Management consultant Simon Sinek, this sounds like a logical way to communicate about the organisation in Sales, Marketing or HR related activities: We describe what we do and convince people to buy into our idea by showing how we are different from our competitors.
But naturally and biologically this is not how people are convinced by an idea. Most of our best decisions in our life are rather based on our gut feeling. Our gut feeling is related to our unconscious knowledge on values that we want to embrace. Therefore, it is important for organisations not to focus on what activities they provide, but rather why the organisation exists. According to Simon Sinek this way the organisation will speak to the individuals in the same way and is more likely to inspire them to do the best for this organisation.