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Need Direction? How Core Values Can Be Your Guidepost

Wednesday, February 1, 2023 - Joe Kiedinger

We all face moments of struggle—days when communication totally falls through or poor decisions are made. When that happens, it’s easy to get stuck and be unsure of what steps to take next.  

That’s why it’s critical to establish and follow company core values. Does your company have any in place? If not, let’s start from the beginning.

What are Core Values?

According to Forbes, “core values are the root values and beliefs which form the basis on which the organization and its employees operate from. They ultimately serve as the ‘guiding light’ that steers the company’s attitude and behavior toward others.”

This specific list of behaviors provides guidance while driving your company forward, directing your decision-making, and helping you set a consistent tone and standard for your business. I don’t know about you, but core values sound pretty powerful, right?

Where did the Concept of Core Values Come From?

In his best-selling book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, Verne Harnish shares the business management principles of billionaire John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil. Number seven on his list: “Core values and purpose are ‘alive’ in the organization.”

Rockefeller was considered one of the most wealthy and successful people in modern society. Not a bad person to take some advice from if you ask me!

How do I Develop Core Values?

Core values should be determined by company ownership or a group of its highest-level leaders via on offsite planning session.

If you’re a small business owner, a great place to start is looking at your own personal values. What primary lesson have you learned in life that has guided you? What’s one eternal truth you feel you need to follow? It could be integrity, honesty, accountability, respect. Let your gut instinct dictate your first core value (or two).

Next, consider what behaviors hold your company back. Is there a pattern you’ve noticed? Develop healthy rules to help prevent them in the future. For example, if you have a company culture where people tend to silo themselves, take on too much, then get overwhelmed, consider a core value such as “teamwork” to give your associates direction.

Core values clarify how we should do what we do. No matter your role in a company, they are a guidepost we can follow when we get stuck and help lead everyone in the company down the same, shared, consistent path.


ACTION PLAN: Need some help developing your core values? Here are some past WOWs and Weekly Cups of Joe that dig into that topic. Or let us guide you there even faster with our coach-led 5-level series of leadership development trainings.

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