Updated: March 10, 2021
Here is an important question for any organization or business: What are your values? How this question is answered is often an accurate indicator of a healthy or struggling entity. In a healthy business, you can ask this question and receive a confident and consistent answer from anyone. Each team member, from the leadership on down, will have been made acutely aware of the organization's values, and those individuals will be able to not only recite them but also explain their basis and application. This is the value of values!
In comparison, conversely, in an unhealthy organization, you will experience the opposite end of the spectrum where no one is really sure of the values, there are differing responses based on who you ask, or none of the participants are able to answer the question simply because no values exist.
The process of identifying, communicating, and applying your values is one of the most important and necessary responsibilities of every leader. No matter if you are a high school or college baseball coach, owner/operator of a hitting facility, or executive of a corporation, the need for core values is essential to guide the team. Without them, your business or organization will suffer and never reach its potential. With them, you will enjoy a rock-solid foundation and systems which you and your team will be able to build upon in a successful and healthy manner.
The good news is that whether you know it or not, your organization or business already has values. They are inherent and exist in spite of any success or failed effort at identifying them. They are present in every athletic team, organization, and in every business.
“It is critical that you avoid the temptation to be idealistic in your identification process.”
Furthermore, those values usually flow directly from the current or past leadership. Author and business consultant Joey Brannon states, “Values persist, no matter what line of business you are in, because they reflect leadership and, in long-standing companies, institutional history. They may even outlive one leader’s tenure and become part of the legacy that endures under future leaders.”
Simply stated, values are the principles, elements, or standards of behaviors that guide and measure our thoughts and actions. Therefore, the process that leads to the identification of your organization's value of values is not a creative process or space. Rather, the process becomes an exercise in honest reflection and assessment.
It is critical that you avoid the temptation to be idealistic in your identification process. Remember the goal is to identify the values that already exist not to manufacture new ones that you wish existed. If you select values that may sound good but have no practical or relational connection to you or your business, you are making the choice to create a weak foundation that all but ensures future struggles and setbacks.
Taking the time to identify your organization's core values is an important and necessary step toward building a healthy organization and will help ensure that it has the potential to flourish as your company grows. As a leader you must fight against the temptation of thinking that this is not a good time or the wrong time to begin this process. The truth is that it is never too early nor too late to identify core values. Whether you are a first-time business owner who is just starting out or an established coach or executive, the need for clear and accurate values is essential.
“As a leader you must fight against the temptation of thinking that this is not a good time to begin this process.”
My grandfather Joe Tanner, the founder of Tanner Tees, never verbally identified or communicated the values for his business. However, he certainly lived them, and though unspoken, he created a unique culture at Tanner Tees that was shaped by his personal values and leadership.
When we began the process of identifying our core values, we simply put into words the culture of Tanner Tees which has been leading our business for over 25 years. In the end we landed on four core values that provide the lens by which we operate and the standards by which we hold ourselves accountable:
Excellence: We are not satisfied with mediocrity
Integrity: We are honest in business, relationships, and actions
Generosity: We are aware of our gifts, talents, and resources and use them to benefit our team, our customers, and our community
Respect: We operate with a mindset of honor and service
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