October 2018

What are your Core Values?

By Tom Deierlein

Integrity. Loyalty. Hard Work. Respect for Others. Transparency. Innovation. Perseverance. What are your core values — how do you live them each day?

Values matter. They mattered 1,000 years ago, 500 years ago and they matter today more than ever. Recently a group of Veterans organizations published a "Veteran's Creed" to help those folks returning to civilian life and still looking for guidance in the new role in their community. I really like the idea and their results. It also caused me to revisit some values and other creeds.

It is not enough to come up with a laundry list of values. It is important explain what you mean by those values. If you are starting an organization or looking to help create a positive culture in your existing one — turn to the company values and engage your employees to explore and discuss them so each person understands how to utilize those in every day decisions and actions they take with co-workers, clients, partners and prospects. They should guide behavior and serve as a compass in times of crisis and uncertainty.

If you don't have them yet — no worries — look to the Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, Military or even our Declaration of Independence to find the values that resonate and make sense for you and your team.

When I first left the military, I joined a Fortune 100 company that had a gold standard Credo. I left there less than 2 years later when my boss directed me to steal sterile samples from one of my hospitals. My point there is simply the importance of having the values but more importantly LIVING those values. They can't simply be a set of platitudes you put on a wall, annual report, or employee manual. They must be discussed, reinforced constantly so members can truly use them in daily decision-making. In a recent visit to Amazon, during the tour I asked why someone did a certain thing a certain way. She replied with the company principle that guided that choice. Impressive!

Enjoy these examples below. Print them out — reflect upon them and match them to your organization or even your family...Parents: discuss them with your children...or use these as a springboard to create your very own family credo.

The Veteran's Creed

  1. I am an American Veteran
  2. I proudly served my country
  3. I live the values I learned in the military
  4. I continue to serve my community, my country and my fellow veterans
  5. I maintain my physical and mental discipline
  6. I make a difference
  7. I honor and remember my fallen comrades

The participating group of Veterans Service Organizations who crafted it included AMVETS, DAV (Disabled American Veterans), HillVets, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Paralyzed Veterans of America, ROA (Reserve Officers Association), Student Veterans of America, Team Rubicon Global, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Wounded Warrior Project.

Army Values (LDRSHIP)

Loyalty: Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit and other Soldiers. Bearing true faith and allegiance is a matter of believing in and devoting yourself to something or someone. A loyal Soldier is one who supports the leadership and stands up for fellow Soldiers. By wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army you are expressing your loyalty. And by doing your share, you show your loyalty to your unit.

Duty: Fulfill your obligations. Doing your duty means more than carrying out your assigned tasks. Duty means being able to accomplish tasks as part of a team. The work of the U.S. Army is a complex combination of missions, tasks and responsibilities — all in constant motion. Our work entails building one assignment onto another. You fulfill your obligations as a part of your unit every time you resist the temptation to take "shortcuts" that might undermine the integrity of the final product.

Respect: Treat people as they should be treated. In the Soldier's Code, we pledge to "treat others with dignity and respect while expecting others to do the same." Respect is what allows us to appreciate the best in other people. Respect is trusting that all people have done their jobs and fulfilled their duty. And self-respect is a vital ingredient with the Army value of respect, which results from knowing you have put forth your best effort. The Army is one team and each of us has something to contribute.

Selfless Service: Put the welfare of the nation, the Army and your subordinates before your own. Selfless service is larger than just one person. In serving your country, you are doing your duty loyally without thought of recognition or gain. The basic building block of selfless service is the commitment of each team member to go a little further, endure a little longer, and look a little closer to see how he or she can add to the effort.

Honor: Live up to Army values. The nation's highest military award is The Medal of Honor. This award goes to Soldiers who make honor a matter of daily living — Soldiers who develop the habit of being honorable, and solidify that habit with every value choice they make. Honor is a matter of carrying out, acting, and living the values of respect, duty, loyalty, selfless service, integrity and personal courage in everything you do.

Integrity: Do what's right, legally and morally. Integrity is a quality you develop by adhering to moral principles. It requires that you do and say nothing that deceives others. As your integrity grows, so does the trust others place in you. The more choices you make based on integrity, the more this highly prized value will affect your relationships with family and friends, and, finally, the fundamental acceptance of yourself.

Personal Courage: Face fear, danger or adversity (physical or moral). Personal courage has long been associated with our Army. With physical courage, it is a matter of enduring physical duress and at times risking personal safety. Facing moral fear or adversity may be a long, slow process of continuing forward on the right path, especially if taking those actions is not popular with others. You can build your personal courage by daily standing up for and acting upon the things that you know are honorable.

At Academy Leadership we start each and every monthly meeting with a review of one of our core values. One or two folks share a story and we all discuss. We have 5 values: Excellence, Respect for Others, Integrity, Trust, and Honesty. That means each year we have discussed and reflected upon each one as a team at least twice.

If you are planning a strategy offsite on values, a book written by our founder Dennis Haley is a great tool to give to the team as a pre-read and to guide the process. The Core Values Compass. It's filled with proven tactics to help you and your team create a shared understanding of values and align them with your organization's purpose, policies, and practices.

Looking for someone to facilitate that offsite? Reach out and we can help there too.

Reprinted with permission.