One of the first things we do in coaching with clients is to identify their core values. When you know what your core values are, they can help you to stay grounded in who you are and what you believe in, especially when challenges come up. When you get your team’s values to align with the leaders as well as the organization, that is when you have created a successful culture.
As management guru Peter Drucker famously stated, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” No matter how effective your strategy is, it cannot outperform a weak company culture — and the heart of your organization’s culture is its core values. There must be a dedicated process to developing and periodically refreshing your organization’s core values with the input of its members.
Where do Core Values come from?
We are not born with values, so how do people develop their values? There are three periods during which values are developed as we grow.
Periods of development
Sociologist Morris Massey has described three major periods during which values are developed.
The Imprint Period
Up to the age of seven, we are like sponges, absorbing everything around us and accepting much of it as true, especially when it comes from our parents. The confusion and blind belief of this period can also lead to the early formation of trauma and other deep problems.
The critical thing here is to learn a sense of right and wrong, good and bad. This is a human construction which we nevertheless often assume would exist even if we were not here (which is an indication of how deeply imprinted it has become).
The Modeling Period
Between the ages of eight and thirteen, we copy people, often our parents, but also others. Rather than blind acceptance of their values, we are trying them on like a suit of clothes, to see how they feel.
At this age we may be much impressed with religion or our teachers. You may remember being particularly influenced by junior schoolteachers who seemed so knowledgeable--maybe even more so than your parents.
The Socialization Period
Between 13 and 21, we are very largely influenced by our peers. As we develop as individuals and look for ways to get away from the earlier programming, we naturally turn to people who seem more like us.
Other influences at these ages include the media, especially those parts which seem to resonate with the values of our peer groups.
Core Values: Why Do You Need Them?
Your core values define how you want the people in your organization to behave. Together with your mission and vision statement, they are a foundational part of your organizational structure. They articulate the underlying beliefs and purpose that each member of your organization is committed to embodying.
Because of their importance, core values are often treated like mission statements, vision statements, and other elements of organizational strategy. However, it’s essential to recognize that, in many ways, values need to be their discussion. Your core values are the beliefs and behaviors that you consider non-negotiable, and that apply to every single person within your organization. They guide and inform your strategic plan as well as your day-to-day operations.
While values are an overused word in corporate culture today, understanding your core values and your team’s core values can help guide you to your deepest why in the face of fear and indecision and give you the confidence to say yes to what really matters. This also eradicates the need for the Great Resignation, that companies are experiencing.
Knowing Your Core Values Is Knowing Yourself
Identifying your core values is crucial. As I write about these values, I remember who I am at the core, and my confidence returns. It suddenly becomes possible to swing out, take risks, and fail because of what matters to me.
If you haven’t contemplated your core values before, start by going to https://www.erinlomanjeck.com/values-assessment and pick the top five most important to you. What does it give you if you start to live your life according to these values? You might just end up braver than you started, putting your hand up and delivering powerfully on your full-body “yes.”
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