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Defining your Company's Core Values

There's a lot of talk about values. And there is often questions around how important values are to developing culture in your business. Before we can think about how to leverage these in your business, we need to understand the different types of values.

Author Patrick Lencioni suggests that there are actually four different values to talk about.

The first type of value that he talks about “Permission to play” values. These are values that you would consider should exist anyway. If you are in business, people would expect that you are honest, have integrity and are trustworthy.  Therefore, these aren’t values that we can use in any way to define us.

The second type that he talks about is what he calls aspirational values.  Aspirational values are those ones that don't exist in their business at this point. But we realise the importance of them and they are ones that we would like to create so that they are consistently witnessed in our business.

Another type of value that he talks about is what he calls accidental values. These are the ones that tend to evolve through the course of time. And they are often the ones that have been created by actions or behaviors that we have just turned a blind eye to.

An example that Patrick references is that you hire a younger person into an influential position in the business. This employee might have a casual dress style.

Over the course of time, you find that some of the other employees start adopting the same dress style. As the owner of the business, you may become frustrated as that isn’t the dress style that you particularly want. What's been introduced, is what we call an accidental value. It is one that as the business owner you have created through the course of time, as the action or behavior has been left to occur.

The values that we're really interested in are what we call the core values. And core values are the ones that 99% of the time, they're inherent in the way that we show up and the way that we behave in our business. These are the ones that really define us. And because they are the ones that really define us, they're usually few in number, possibly only 3 or 4.

To determine those core values, we often have to look back to the founder because these are the sort of values that emanate from the people who started this business in the first place. They don’t seem to change through the course of time.

And it's these sort of values that we firstly need to identify, and secondly, make sure that we've got a team around us that aligned with those core values. Having a team that is aligned to these core values will lead to harmony and a good culture in your business.

It only takes one in the business who isn’t aligned, and this is enough to create a sense of tension and chaos.

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