What does it mean to be values-led?
Almost every company has a set of values. Few are values-led. Most of those who are values-led have been that way since they first started. (Think Apple, or Zappos, or John Lewis).
Transitioning from having the values on the wall, to being a values-led company, requires a series of steps, not a single earth-shattering transformation.
We find a good goal to set is to become MORE values-led. This means having more of your decisions anchored in your values. Or perhaps resisting the urge to do the expedient thing, the easy thing, and choosing to the right thing a little more often. I like realistic goals, because I think they're encouraging, and making MORE values-led decisions is something do-able by any leader, in any organisation.
- Make a decision that your values are worth working on. You have to be convinced that they'll really make a difference to the business, and that they align with what you want to stand for.
- Consider what the word ‘courage’ means to you. I’ve found that courage is one of the characteristics that needs to increase in order for a business to become more values-led. After all, it’s usually easier to make the expedient decision. Sometimes holding out for a values-led decision can put short-term profit at risk, or even require you to challenge other people.
- Notice moments in your day where you could ask the question of yourself and those around you: "Is this aligned to our values?" This is part of becoming more conscious, which is a necessary step. Just asking the question changes the conversation. If there is one moment in your day where this question changes a decision, then you are more values-led than you were yesterday.
One of our clients asked themselves this question about the way they were handling their travel policy: Was it aligned to their values of simplicity and trust? It turned out that their centralised approach was not actually delivering the benefits everyone supposed, in fact, it was adding bureaucracy and frustration. As a result of asking that question—and a lot of work to change the policy—they made considerable savings and increased the sense of responsibility their managers had for making sensible travel decisions.
Remember the word MORE. One more values decision each day. Whether it’s something you do personally, something your team revises, or a decision that impacts large numbers of customers or employees: the impact builds fast.