I read “an article about President Kennedy visit to the NASA space center in 1962 when the President noticed a janitor carrying a broom. The President interrupted his tour, walked over to the man, and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?” The janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr. President. The janitor truly felt he was a valuable part of something bigger than himself, and his attitude created a feeling of self-confidence in his mission. He wasn’t merely a janitor; he was a member of the 1962 NASA Space Team! That conversation depicts the janitor’s understanding of NASA’s mission and the importance of his contribution aligned with the company’s core values perfectly.
Values are very, very important to the development and operation of all companies regardless of the sectors. I read an article by Carmine Gallo named “People with passion can change the world,” and in that article, it referred to Steve Jobs’s return at Apple in 1997 after a 12-year absence.
With the company running out of cash and close to bankruptcy, Jobs held a staff meeting. In that meeting, Jobs indicated to his staff that Apple is not about making boxes for people to get their jobs done, Apple is about something more, at the core, we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.
Returning Apple to its core values aligned with a shared vision turnaround the company fortunes from close to bankruptcy to a company that is arguably one of the most successful companies of all time. Many organizations pay lip service to their core values. It looks beautiful on a wall and the company website but plays absolutely no part in the creation of the culture of the organization.
In many companies, values are not informing policies and behaviors. When this happens, there is a misalignment between the company’s values and vision. What do I mean? In Lex Sisney’s article Warning: Vision & Values Can Kill Your Company, Mr. Sisney illustrates the point that an organization needs a shared and compelling vision so everyone can understand where the company is going. Additionally, a company must also embody a shared code of values, so everyone is clear on the mode of acceptable behavior and, more importantly, what isn’t acceptable behavior.
Zappos, for example, have a very deep-seated understanding of their values and recruit people base on the core values of the company as oppose to qualification and experience only. Under CEO Tony Hsieh, Zappos has been very successful with it’s a loyalty-based business model and relationship marketing. Their performance is closely related to its corporate culture, which is based on the ten core values of the company.
The leadership challenge, however, is to sustain a corporate culture in which the individual values of employees are, to a large extent, congruent with the core corporate values. Zappos and a few other companies seem to have achieved this.
Many managers I have interacted with believe that core values are nonessential in the daily operations of the company. As the leader, you need to ensure that your team ave a deep-seated understanding of the company values. It should not be something superficial.
Once this is achieved, you will get your company to operate at full throttle. If the opposite occurs, and the leader of the team cares little about the organizational values, that environment can breathe a lot of distrust, silos, and defective management practices, which will ultimately lead the company to bankruptcy emotionally on your employees and financially on the company.
It would be best if you filled leadership positions in your team with individuals that intrinsically share that same vision and core values. If you can do this, you’ll have smooth sailing ahead. If you, however, make the mistake of hiring people who don’t buy into the vision and values of your company. You’ll end up with a very dysfunctional and toxic organization culture.
Any successful company and you can do your research always stay true to their values even if it means losing profit. They never comprise the company values because it’s a significant aspect of the company identity, and it provides the organization with its most significant competitive advantage.
About Gifford Thomas
I am the founder of Leadership First and the author of The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible. At Leadership First, we are committed to publishing the very best inspirational leadership quotes and articles to inspire our 147,000+ community of leaders to believe in the impossible, while creating an environment free from toxic, fearful and intimidating leadership. We believe everyone can and should enjoy their work, but it must start with the leadership leading by example. Follow our community of leaders HERE, and let's change the leadership status quo to help inspire and motivate our leaders to make a difference and create an organization their people will love.
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