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Gaining Value From Values

Successories is proud to introduce our latest book from the Power of One series, Gaining Values From Values by Robert J. Klein. In this book, the author shows you how to encourage your employees to embody the cultural vision of your company, embrace business challenges, and drive value from corporate ideals. This excerpt discusses the importance of identifying and embracing values that make sense for your organization.

Choose Values That Matter

The first step in empowering employees to drive value from corporate values is to choose values that matter. This statement may sound deceptively simple, but in company after company it is the opposite that is more often the case.

In some companies, leaders fail by opting for values they never really believe in. Instead, they choose values with "face". They sound good; they please the public. But they have no heart.

In others, the selection process is finished without ever connecting how core values will drive business. The values selected are seen as "nice to haves" instead of "have to haves." They are window dressing that leadership plans to act on some day, when business is better.

There are a multitude of reasons, all with the same end result: it is the failure to choose values that matter that keeps companies and their employees from driving those values to profitability and gain.

Values that matter seldom come easy, and never come cheap. They are specific in nature and leave little room for companies to hide from when events in the marketplace come to test their mettle. In the mid-eighties, when the Tylenol tampering case first came to light, Johnson and Johnson's commitment to first and foremost care for the health and safety of mothers and their babies became abundantly clear when the company immediately pulled all Tylenol products off the shelves. Aligning with that core value cost the company millions, but returned it tenfold when the marketplace responded to the convictions of their actions.

In the same year, another company faced a similar product threat to health and safety. Its corporate values touted fiscal responsibility and commitment to profit and growth, and its actions were woefully lacking with regard to public safety and concern. In the shadow of that response, the brand has yet to recover.

When choosing the values that will define your company, ask the hard questions. Are there any values more important than the one being considered in defining who we are and what we stand for? If the answer is yes, even in reference to another company core value, then the value being considered does not belong on the short list.

Is our promise to commit to this value a promise we can keep? Is it one we want to hold ourselves accountable for? Is it one that our customers care deeply about and will pay for?

The big, immutable values—don't lie; don't cheat; don't steal—are the easy ones to subscribe to and the ones hard pressed to ignite passion in a workforce or its customers. If you want to drive value from corporate values, make it personal, make it practical, and make it count!

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