Connection to mission and purpose drives engagement for your employees. An organization's core values are direct communication to drive its mission internally and to connect with its customers. But all too often, core values are seen as something that can be manufactured. Leaders ask me to "create" their business values, with the unspoken expectation that if we pin the tail on the right words, somehow we will transform their culture and their client base for the better.
Here's the problem with that approach: Core values don't work if they don't come from your moral, ethical core. They cannot guide you if they don't flow from the deepest part of your true essence. We can help guide individuals, teams and organizations toward greater understanding of their natural motivations and behaviors, but if we are helping them create these from an ideal they aspire to, rather than an exploration into who they already are, their modeling of these values will be unsustainable at best. And that's why talent is where to start a conversation about values. In my practice as a consultant and adviser, I use CliftonStrengths as a starting point for discussion about who businesses truly are, what they really want to accomplish and how others should identify them in the marketplace.
If you are leading an organization, your organizational core values matter. What exactly are core values? Well, let's start with what they aren't. Core values ARE NOT: descriptions of the work you do, strategies you employ to accomplish your mission, or competencies -- technical or otherwise. They ARE your essence -- the unwavering rules by which you live and work. They are what makes up your moral compass.
Understanding the CliftonStrengths at play among your leaders helps you harness what authentically drives your organization.
So how do you use CliftonStrengths to inform your organization's core values? First, you have to see CliftonStrengths as not just a direct individual coaching tool. Go beyond naming your themes and explore what's behind them. What do your dominant themes say about how you are motivated? What do you look for in others? How do you make decisions? What do others objectively see as the things you won't compromise on? This isn't simple, but it's imperative. There are tools and guidance available to help you nail it down. Each of your dominant CliftonStrengths themes serves as the basis of one of your actionable core values. The reason strengths work so well as foundations for values is because they are not something you choose -- they are who you are.
When you've uncovered your authentic core values, they will serve as a trustworthy filter for decision-making and analyzing why things went right or wrong. They will also attract good "fits" -- employees, customers, vendors, friends -- and repel those who don't share your beliefs. Finally, core values form the foundation of a corporate culture that is aligned, predictable and trustworthy. That is golden. Just look at all the articles on companies that are thriving with incredibly strong cultures.
So please don't ask us to help you create your core values. Instead, ask for guidance in uncovering your strengths, translating them into values and revealing your true essence to the world. Start reaping the benefits of attracting your ideal clients, aligning your talented team and building a thriving culture that propels your success.
Fran Biderman-Gross' Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Positivity, Competition, Communication, Belief and Significance.