I have been looking on LinkedIn and I saw another post advocating gaining clarity in your business through Vision – Mission – Values. It got me thinking, who sets their values after deciding what they are going to do to achieve their aims? I don’t think that’s how people work. It also implies that people choose their values according to the situation – are your values flexible? If they are, can they really be called values?
The values a person holds are part of their character and adherence to those values demonstrates integrity. Integrity adn consistency lead to authenticity and ultimately to trust. The same is true of businesses. Without trust, you can’t build brands, relationships or teams. It would be impossible to trust a business or person whose values are flexible. So it seems odd to me that those charged with advising us on how to develop our businesses seem to advocate flexible values. Perhaps it is unintended, the problem is that communication is really hard to do well. Determining your values individually and collectively in a business is hard work. It takes serious consideration, you must understand what impact choosing these values will have on your daily activities. This is because IF these are your values and IF you truly believe in them, there may be some activities you must stop doing. Some of these activities may be lucrative, but if they conflict with your stated values and you continue to do them, are your values really worth anything?
I propose a small change. First establish your values. Once you know your values you can choose a vision that is consistent with your values. The vision is what you want to achieve, now create your mission, this is how you will deliver your vision. Since your values are already defined, you can choose actions that are aligned with your values. This eliminates any conflict that could arise if the actions you think you should take to deliver your vision and mission is inconsistent with your values. As business leaders we have a responsibility to live the values we espouse for our business. If we cannot adhere to these values, why should any of our employees? If we cannot commit to them as core beliefs, are they really values?
You values must be real and lived, fake values laminated on a wall are a web that will trap you eventually. Own your values, choose a vision that is consistent with your values, then live your values through your mission and daily activities. This will deliver constancy of purpose to your organisation and is a starting platform for continuous improvement.