Leadership, Team, Vision and values

What is the glue that holds your business together?


Perhaps the most obvious answer is money – good cashflow works well! But cash isn’t my subject here; there’s something else that marks out the very best businesses.

It’s all about Values

I’ve seen in big organisations how real values, shared by teams of people, create an extraordinary sense of purpose and direction. I’ve seen how the absence of shared values can be corrosive and lead to conflict.

In small businesses values are just as important.

Have you ever felt that people in your team aren’t really pulling their weight? That one or two aren’t really going the same way as you? That your business isn’t as much fun as it used to be? If you’ve experienced any of these feelings and come through the other side, the chances are that you’ve found a way to establish a set of values within the team that resonate with you and that others are happy with. Chances are also that you’ve realised that you need to hold people accountable for living and working by them as well.

But all this talk about Values – it’s a bit cheesy and American isn’t it?’

I think it all depends how you do it – after all you can choose to be cheesy or choose not to be! Here are 5 reasons why this is important for every business.

  • Values are the glue that binds people together in a business, just as in any other team.
  • Values are the context for every decision that you make
  • You can use the values to help you recruit the right people
  • You can use your values to hold people accountable for their behaviour, as well as their results
  • Your values will help you decide if someone in the team is really not the right fit

The acid test of your values is what decision you make about an employee who is effective in their job but does not work in line with your values. Food for thought?

One experience that stands out for me is being part of a team racing a 60-foot yacht across the world’s oceans. I covered 6,500 miles racing against 7 identical yachts so the difference in performance was down to tactics and teamwork. My crew won the race round the world, including the South Atlantic race from South Africa to Brazil. Why?

I’m certain that one of the reasons was that we had an open discussion about our goals and values before the start; this meant everyone was equally committed to doing the tough things (like getting up at 3am to go out in the rain, when you’re still wet and tired from the last sail change and you’ve only been asleep for an hour), and doing them day in day out for weeks at a time.

Some resources if you would like to know more about values:

Hire, Fire, Develop and Reward: How Values-Driven Companies Leverage Culture for Growth

There are some great resources on this site. In particular if you click on the link to the partner website near the bottom of the page, you will find several good videos. I recommend “Use your core values to drive decision making”.

Built to Last by Jim Collins – is about why Values are important in building a business that will endure.

Team Spirit by Brendan Hall – is about turning a group of strangers into a team that can win a 35,000 mile yacht race, underpinned by three core values; Pride, Energy and Support. The lessons are relevant for every team and every business

3 things you can do now:

  1. Write down three business problems that could be solved more easily if your values were completely clear to you and everyone in your team
  2. Have a think; if your customers and employees are talking right now about what your business is like, what do you want them to be saying?
  3. Write down the top 5 things that define what you stand for, what you live by, how you want your people and your business to be seen by others

Want some help?

I have a ‘step by step guide’ to creating your Vision, of which Values is a core part. Give me a call if you’d like to go through it


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