In 2011, The Economist reported on how Walmart intended to reorganize by instilling a values-based culture, instead of their former rules-based culture, which was found to be too inflexible to cope with various aspects of global progress.
Wad-Mart isn’t the only company that struggles to find a company culture that “fits”.
A Boston Research Group study suggests that many company’s still have a long way to go when it comes to shining a guiding light of culture and core values. Of the 1,000 employees surveyed:
43% described their company’s culture as based on command-and-control, top-down management or leadership by coercion—or “blind obedience”.
The largest category, 54%, saw their employer’s culture as top-down, but with skilled leadership, lots of rules and a mix of carrots and sticks, considered “informed acquiescence”.
Only 3% fell into the category of “self-governance”, in which everyone is guided by a “set of core principles and values that inspire everyone to align around a company’s mission”.
The usefulness of values-based company culture
Creating a values-based culture starts with knowing who you really are and what matters most to you. This may sound simple, but it is not easy. These days many brands are conflicted when it comes to self-awareness; realizing “brand actualization” is not an easy thing to achieve.
Four key principles of values-based leadership
A values-based culture starts with values-based leadership. Here’s a look at four things you’ll need to achieve before you start crafting a company culture based on key values and beliefs.
Self-reflection – What are your values? What do you stand for? What matters to you the most? Identify and reflect on these concepts. Strive for greater self-awareness through self-reflection.
Balance – Consider all opinions with an open mind. Seek to view situations from various viewpoints and perspectives in order to gain a complete understanding of every situation.
Self-confidence – Accept yourself as you are. Recognize your weaknesses and strengths, and strive for continuous improvement.
Genuine humility – Keep life in perspective. Put others first, listen and foster an abundant minset. Humility — or “a quiet ego” — can be surprisingly powerful.
A leader that practices self-reflection, a commitment to balance, true self-confidence, and genuine humility is poised lead to lead their company culture forward. These are the cornerstones of value-based leadership and can help you craft your own values.
Leadership consultant Rich Litvin created a business based on the values that are most important to him. Litvin explains: “I train my team in these values, we refer to these values often and we make decisions based on these values. For example, I have no interest in being a business that prides itself on our speed in replying to emails or how many followers we have in twitter. These values help me create a team that loves to be together. And loves to serve together.”
Put values first without sacrificing growth
Today’s business world is rife with talk of invading new markets, hostile takeovers, and battle for market share. Yet it is possible to incorporate a values-based approach and still prioritize growth. Here are four ways to start.
Make mission-based decisions – Good decision making is often clouded by reactive short-term planning. Root your long-term goals in a mission and values that help you relate to the world on a more meaningful level.
Inspire your employees –Leaders must inspire employees to go beyond serving customers. Empower your team to represent and nurture your brand and create unique brand experiences. These kinds of employee contributions come as a result of inspiration and a sense of deep purpose, not cash bonuses or threats.
Incorporate values when recruiting – Hiring employees based on talent alone is not enough; consider their character through behavioral based interviewing. Build a community of staff members who can champion your philosophy and purpose from the start. Reward them for how they get the job done, not just doing it.
Cultivate a trust culture – Set tasks and goals and then trust your employees to rise to the occasion. Do not scrutinize their actions publicly or be distrustful. Measure how much got done, and how … according to your company’s values.
Making money and building a purpose-driven business don’t have to be mutually exclusive efforts. They can be one in the same.
This article has been edited and condensed.