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Strong Core Values Guide Decisions During a Crisis
Identifying company values, along with a mission and vision of the future, is considered table stakes if you want to run a successful company. But integrating and living by those values is more difficult than it seems. It’s still common for leadership teams to go through elaborate exercises to craft a set of company values—and then fail to make them a meaningful part of the company culture.
I’m quick to praise EOS® (the Entrepreneurial Operating System®), but this is one area where I’m particularly effusive. Core Values are a big part of an EOS organization’s centerpiece, the Vision/Traction Organizer™ (V/TO). If you use EOS to run your company and follow the system to the letter, your values WILL be integrated into the beliefs and actions of your employees on a cellular level.
What does that look like exactly?
1. You hire, fire, and reward team members based on core values
2. Everyone in your company knows and can explain your core values
3. All business decisions, including strategy, initiatives, and prioritization, are based on core values
Living Your Values During COVID-19
Let’s assume that you’ve put significant thought into identifying the right values and ongoing effort into integrating them in your company. After a while, living your values can eventually start to become second nature, especially when business is good. But when crisis strikes (i.e. COVID-19), that’s when core values are really put to the test.
All of us have felt some desperation in the last couple of months—whether we had to lay off employees, shut down operations, or watch our bank balances drop lower and lower. If your core values, or your commitment to them, was tepid, you probably threw them out the window weeks ago. But if your values were strong, you’ve likely doubled down and leaned on them more than ever as you’ve made tough decisions.
While much about COVID-19 remains uncertain, there is a general sense that we are past the bleakest part of the crisis (at least we hope so). It’s an excellent time for revisiting your core values and reflecting on how they’ve held up during recent challenges.
Here are some key questions to ask yourself and/or your Senior Leadership Team:
1. Which values have we been using to make decisions?
2. Did any one value stand out or shine through?
3. How did our values shape our actions?
4. Are there any values that seem out of alignment or that we didn’t need?
5. Did we learn anything else about our company that should be included in our values?
What if You Don’t Have Core Values?
If you’re not currently using EOS, or if you’re just starting the process with one of our Implementers, you may not have fully defined core values. In that case, you can work backward to identify the principles or values you have been using to make decisions during the COVID-19 crisis.
What do you feel helped you get through the challenges of this time?
What ideas or principles did you use to guide your actions ?
What do those ideas say about your company? What defines your organization?
Did you learn anything else?
If you have trouble answering either set of questions, you probably have vague, ambiguous, or weak core values (whether explicitly defined or not). Across the board, I’ve seen companies with weak values face more struggles and stress than companies that know exactly what matters to them.
Winston Churchill said "You can measure a man's character by the choices he makes under pressure." COVID-19 has given you a chance to show the world what you’re really made of. When your values are strong, you can lean on them to make decisions. The path forward becomes obvious—even unavoidable—because you have to make choices in integrity with your values. Those choices aren’t always easy, but if you’re living your core values, you can be confident that they’re right.
If you’re a current client and would like to discuss revisiting your core values, please reach out to your EOS Implementer®.
If you want to learn more about developing a strong set of values for your company, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.