Creating Your Vision Part IV: Core Values

The fourth and final part of this series on creating your corporate vision deals with belief and behavior. Specifically, I’m talking about core values. In order for an organization to achieve its vision, core values must be clearly identified and communicated throughout the organization. Answering the following two-part question will help organizations clarify their core values:

**What does the organization believe at its core, and as a result, how should members of the organization behave toward one another and their customers?

At first this might seem easy, but it could actually be the most difficult part of the four-part process for creating the overall corporate vision. Much time and thought should be committed to identifying core values because once identified, these values should never be compromised. That is why they are called “core” values—they are at the heart of the organization. They should not be taken lightly, and they must be ingrained in the culture.

Also, core values should be unique. Try to avoid overused and banal words such as “honesty” or “integrity” (although these are very important) because these are expected of all organizations. The core values should be unique to your organization, and you should be better at delivering them than anyone else. As with the other components of the corporate vision, the core values should connect with the purpose, vision, and mission because they all flow together and complement one another. The core values help clarify the core beliefs of the organization and serve as a guide to behavior for employees.

For some great insights on core values, check out Built to Last by Jerry Porras and Jim Collins, or The Advantage by Pat Lencioni. These writers provide excellent commentary on the importance of core values, along with suggestions for identifying them. Much of what they write has served as an inspiration and guide for me to write on this topic.

To summarize the four-part series on corporate vision:

This four-part journey we have discussed over the last few weeks has been focused on getting clarity about the corporate vision for your organization. The corporate vision is the foundation, or core ideology, of your organization, and it should serve as the guide for all decisions and actions. Unfortunately, many organizations only go through the motions when establishing their vision, relegating these essential core ideological statements to a piece of paper in a frame on the wall. If these statements are not ingrained into the organizational culture and put into action on a daily basis, then they are useless.

Leaders must do more than just pay lip service to their corporate vision and core ideology. Instead, they need to lead by example and consistently communicate why the organization exists, where it is going, what action needs to be taken daily, and how members of the organization must act toward each other and toward customers. Those that do so will separate themselves from the competition because they will have a more focused and meaningful organization.

Here are the four key components and corresponding questions once again:

  • Purpose: Why do we exist?
  • Vision: Where are we going?
  • Mission: What do we currently do?
  • Core Values: How do we behave based on what we believe?

I hope these posts have been helpful to you, even if in some small way. Most of what I write about is based on experience, observation, and reading. I have personally seen these components in action and I firmly believe that when done properly, the creation of a clear core ideology and corporate vision can be a catalyst for motivation, inspiration, growth, and results. If you have never clarified your core ideology or articulated your corporate vision, I encourage you to use this as a guide and start the journey today. You and your organization will be better off because of it.

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