Exploring organisational cultures

Embracing true values

17 April 2024

This is the third part of our series on culture explorations in organisations, where we will explore how embracing true values will serve as an organisational compass, shaping our success, supporting our journey and guiding our behaviours.

Consider whether any of these apply to your organisational values:

Trust, transparency, honesty, learning, innovation, equality

While these values seem universal and applicable across industries, we need to pause and ask ourselves: what do they truly mean for our organisation?

Values should be more than just words on a poster or a website. They should guide us in answering three critical questions that every member of the organisation should be able to address.

Question 1: How do we define success?

Consider the values that are emphasised, the brand you represent as an organisation and what you as a leader believe is critical to achieving success.

True values help us define success beyond financial metrics. They provide a compass that points us towards our vision and purpose, helping us understand what truly matters in the long run.

where values guide our definition of success

Profit, diligence, first mover, prepare to lead; expect to be led, ensure mandate, green above greed, customer first, expansion, 50/50 gender distribution etc.

Question 2: What guides us towards success?

Consider the systems, processes, incentives and structures that are in place to shape your understanding of success.

True values should act as pillars that support our journey towards success. They shape our decision-making processes, strategies and our approach to challenges and opportunities.

of ways to success where values guide our choices

Sprint methodology, open office environment, decentralised budgets, home office support, team rather than individual incentives etc.

Question 3: How do we behave to succeed?

The sum of what defines success and what guides you towards success should align with the essential behaviours that you observe in the organisation.

Consider what is done in crucial decision-making situations, what arguments are presented to reach a conclusion, and overall, how relationships play out in the environment around you.

True values provide clear guidance on how we should conduct ourselves as individuals within the organisation. They create a shared understanding of expected behaviours and foster a culture of collaboration, respect and integrity.

of behaviours guided by our values

Greet without hesitation, act before analysing, enquire before advocating, dress code, townhall meetings etc.

Tear off the labels!

If our values are genuine and true, they go beyond mere labels. They are not “off-the-shelf” values that are superficially adopted but lack substance. True values are deeply ingrained in our leadership, our daily context and the fundamental behaviours that everyone shares.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that our values are not just lofty aspirations but meaningful principles that guide us in creating a positive impact on our stakeholders and society as a whole.

Therefore, let us take the time to reflect on our organisation’s true values. Are they just buzzwords, or do they genuinely define who we are and how we operate? Do they align with our vision and purpose? Are they reflected in our actions and decisions?

Let us pause, reflect and infuse our organisations with true values that serve as a compass, shaping our success, supporting our journey and guiding our behaviours. We owe it to everyone who decides to follow us to build an organisation that truly lives its values so that doing what is best is both easy and motivating.

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