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8 Tips for Core Values

Honesty is not a Core Value, but it could certainly be part of a larger set of Universal Values. Innovation is not a Core Value, although it might be part of an Industry set of values where innovative thinking is critical to remain competitive. Divergent thinking is a core value because it inspires a particular kind of behavior that is guided by a foundational belief associated with solving problems.

When developing Core Values, create distinction from Universal or Industry Values by following these key considerations:

  1. Inspirational. 
    They should inspire behavior that will contribute to a culture that reflects what the organization aspires to be (Vision).

  2. Distinctive. 
    They should capture something about how the organization is different from its competitors.

  3. Uncompromising. 
    Core Values are a commitment to principles that the organization must own and have the conviction and courage to live by.

  4. Meaningful. They need to be understood, believed and relevant to those who must live them out and ultimately contribute to a “better you.”

  5. Challenging. Core Values should stimulate curiosity and imagination.

  6. Genuine. They have to be something that is true to who and what the organization is.

  7. Actionable. They must be behavior-driven and clear enough that they can be acted upon, measured against and be a decision filter.

  8. Simple. Core Values need to be brief so that they can be understood and remembered — no more than four or five.

Empty values statements create cynical and dispirited employees, alienate customers, and undermine managerial credibility.¹

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