Core values for your business — why bother, right? Think again!
I spend a great deal of time helping businesses understand the importance of building a great culture in order to create a great team, both of which will in turn help create a great, 10X-level business.
Developing clear and actionable mission and vision statements are core components of this winning strategy, and while mission statements are typically well understood by most clients, things get a little trickier when we start thinking about vision statements.
Trickier still is the concept of core values for the business. Your mission is why you exist. Your vision is your roadmap for where the business is going in terms of your brand, your people, and your revenue.
But…core values? I like to think of them as your organizational code. They set expectations. They define who you are, what you believe in, and how you hold one another accountable in your day to day actions on behalf of the business.
Defining these things is anything but fluff. You’d be surprised how often businesses are just pushing forward with no clear collective sense of why they’re doing what they’re doing, where they want to go, or what it is this brand believes in on a fundamental level.
Core values give your business a clear sense of direction
You have customers to serve. A team to lead. Do you really want to be rudderless in this endeavor?
As the leader in your business, you really need to decide for yourself what kind of business you want to run. Let me put it this way:
If you believe that you have a 10X mentality, meaning that you want to grow quickly, create massive value, and ultimately exit the business with a substantial payout, then your core values probably can’t be “fun” or “excitement” because those values don’t necessarily align with the vision you have for your business.
Even “productive” wouldn’t really fit into the design you have in mind, because what you’re looking for is less “productivity” and more “results.”
Compare this to a business that is more focused on being a laid back, family oriented business. Maybe this business is less about aggressive growth, but 10% to 50% year over year growth is the goal.
The defined values for this business would be quite different than the previously discussed 10X business. They’d probably be a bit softer so that its culture and environment would reflect its leader’s vision.
No mission? Then no vision. No vision? Then no values!
Let me reiterate this piece so that it doesn’t get lost. In order to create and define your business’s values, you absolutely need to have your mission and vision statements in place, and your vision statement is most critical to this process.
In a sense, your vision statement is just another way of saying what your target is. Your values are going to be the bedrock of whatever your target is. And I don’t know about you, but when I’m working, you better believe that I want to know what my target is.
Your target is what you’re working towards in every action you take at work. But it’s not just the actions that you take, your values also should influence why you take certain actions, and why you should avoid others.
You’re creating a sense of ethics for your business, ones that you’ll follow as a leader and model for all other employees to observe and follow.
There’s a lot of pressure that’s placed on founders and executives, and for good reason. In your position, you really are more visible than most other team members, and therefore you represent the brand in a unique way.
10X businesses, like Cardone Ventures and the many businesses we work with, are wise in making core values an element of their overall HR strategy.
How core values help you hire, reward, and fire your employees
We use our core values as a critical component of our HR strategy, so that our expectations are clear from the very beginning of a person’s experience as a Cardone Ventures employee.
When you’re establishing your own core values for your business, I recommend that you consider them via the same criteria that we do: hiring, rewarding, and firing.
Why? Because when you’re choosing your core values and implementing them into your organization, you’re setting expectations for everyone (including yourself!) about the behavior that your business will promote — including literal promotions for your employees.
Your core values really do need to drive every decision you make, not just how you hire and fire your employees, but throughout the entire life cycle of the employee so that they have clarity on how they can be the best at their job, how they can excel in their role nad be the sort of person who gets promoted when the opportunity arises.
Core values should be applicable to EVERYONE in the business
One of the main reasons I really love our core values at Cardone Ventures is that they really are relevant to every person in every position at the company.
Our core values are written as such:
- We are inspirational
- We are disciplined
- We are accountable
- We are transparent
- We are aligned
- We are results-oriented
We don’t need to examine each and every core value here today (but if you’re interested in examining Cardone Ventures’ core values, check out this blog), but I do want to explore how we use the value of inspiration in terms of how we think about hiring, rewarding, and firing employees.
The power of inspiration — at every professional level
We believe that everyone, regardless of position, has the opportunity to be inspirational to others through their work.
There’s different levels of inspiration, of course, and at the highest level should be the person who’s creating the vision and the ideas and living out and fulfilling the core values across the board to the organization, but at every level, we expect to see our team members creating a feeling of inspiration through their work.
Like, at the executive level, it’s really our responsibility to infuse that sense of inspiration into a winning culture, so that we can create a feeling of community in the organization.
You can’t just hide in your office when you’re in a leadership role. You can’t just wait for things to happen. You have a responsibility to set the tone.
If you’re, say, a person in an administrative role or a receptionist, then things that seem simple, like how you greet people when they come into the office, for instance, are absolutely crucial to how you create inspiration. In that small but critical interaction, it’s your job to embody the brand, and having a boring, monotonous energy is just not gonna cut it.
How you can use inspiration to correct certain behaviors
Inspiration to correct poor behavior? It’s true, you really can use it in this context. Let me put it into terms you’ve no doubt already experienced.
Have you ever been leading a meeting and creating a project plan, and when you ask the team for feedback, it’s just…crickets. Like nothing. Zero energy.
Crickets are not great, right? Zero inspiration with that kind of crickets, folks.
This is your opportunity to really put things into perspective for your team. Like, we’re here to deliver the very best experience to our clients, and when we just sit here silently, we’re not delivering on our promise to them.
You’re there. You’re prepared. You’re present. And you’re doing all you can to inspire your team to deliver a product to your clients that will help them achieve their goals.
The people on your team who are picking up the ball that you’re tossing out there, building on it, and then tossing it back to the rest of the team are showing an executive presence. The ones who don’t, aren’t, and I think it’s okay to say so.
If I was having that issue, I’d probably say something like, “Hey, you’re not showing inspiration when you show up to these calls because you just sit there. This is a two-way street, and in order for us to deliver our best, we need to be active participants in this process.”
You’re not picking on them. You’re just reinforcing your brand’s core values, because it’s everyone’s responsibility to be representing something bigger than ourselves in all that we do, including how we conduct ourselves in meetings.
Sometimes, with inspiration, you just have to turn it on, even when you might not feel like it. It’s certainly not going to come if you don’t try, and we’re here to do more than try, right? We’re here to create a 10X business that does incredible things!
There’s just so much to say about how core values can guide your business, including how you can use them to fire employees who aren’t in alignment with you.
Next time, we’ll explore the concepts of accountability, responsibility, leadership, and yes, terminating underperformers.
In the meantime, I would encourage you to subscribe to the WorkWoman podcast for more great content about work, life, and teambuilding!
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