Reader Favorite: 6 Reasons Core Values Matter

core values matter

Core values–or whatever you want to call them–are a BFD. Core values matter. Some folks might argue that they’re not that important, but I’d suggest they rethink that position because whether they think they’re important or not, core values are a big deal.

Here’s why they’re a big deal:

1. Core values matter because they encourage a sense of belonging.

Humans are wired to want and need a sense of belonging, so why wouldn’t we want to create communities in our workplaces that provide the sort of positive, meaningful belonging that we’re designed to desire as human beings?

[bctt tweet=”Great core values provide a sense of belonging. #leadership #companyculture #culture”]

2. Core values matter because they promote loyalty.

They’re like a stake in the ground, so to speak. The more certain sorts of values are internalized by the folks at an organization, the more likely people are to develop a sense of loyalty to the organization and those values.

[bctt tweet=”Core values promote loyalty. #leadership #companyculture #culture”]

3. Core values matter because they provide identity and uniqueness (hopefully).

Many organizations tout core values, but don’t live them. Think about it this way: if you stripped the walls of the organization of any verbiage about your values, and invited a complete stranger into your organization for the day, what would they think your values were? While that stranger might not be able to articulate the values with the same wording that you do internally, they should be able to detect the general ideas in many cases.

[bctt tweet=”Core values provide identity & uniqueness. #leadership #companyculture #culture”]

Would they walk out thinking your workplace was fun? Dynamic? Collaborative? Quiet? Somber? Boring? Buzzing? Crazy? Depressing? Creative? Straight-laced? I’m not arguing the merits of any particular value, per se; I’m just saying that whatever those values are, they ought to be apparent.

4. Core values matter because they provide clarity around the purpose of the organization.

People need to know the answer to the Why question. Your values will likely have some sort of connection to your greater organizational purpose. They’re the behaviors and attitudes that you believe are conducive to moving toward that purpose.

[bctt tweet=”Core values provide clarity around a company’s purpose. #leadership #companyculture #culture”]

5. Core values matter because they help everyone understand group norms and behavioral expectations.

Anyone who’s ever worked in an organization with unclear or inconsistently lived and enforced values–and most of us have–knows how frustrating this is. Without clearly communicated and understood values, people don’t have an adequate framework within which to live organizational life.

[bctt tweet=”Core values clarify group norms. #leadership #companyculture #culture”]

6. Core values matter because they push the concept of “team” past being just a buzzword.

Values form a bond between people in a group. There’s a shared understanding of the expectations people have of each other. Instead of a group being a team in some abstract sense, there are real and clear ideas that people can rally around and have in common. Instead of teamwork being something scrawled in an awful font across the breadth of rarely-viewed poster in the break room, it becomes something that people are passionate–even fanatical–about.

So yeah, they matter. They’re the biggest of deals. But hey, I’m super nerdy about culture stuff, so what do you think? What other reasons can you think of?

21 thoughts on “Reader Favorite: 6 Reasons Core Values Matter

  • I totally endorse this blog content. What most leaders (business, government, organizational, etc) don’t realize is that they have “core values” whether they state them or not. They are reflected in the actions and activities of the followers (employees, representatives, etc). I worked with and for many organizations in my life (other than religious ones) and only two had explicit core values: The United States Army and Toyota. I cannot stress how important these values were to every aspect of the two organizations and instrumental in their successes. And, when they deviated from them, found disasters.

    • Absolutely, Jack. You’re right–there’s often a difference between touted values and the ones that are actually lived and experienced every day in an organization.

    • I agree, Jack. Number 5 was spot on–the behavioral expectations do not need to be a cage but can be a real help when guiding teams. It’s not a hierarchical initiative, but namely a team-oriented manner of helping the M.O. of the corporate culture integrate fully. Fun stuff!


      Dr. Lynn K. Jones

  • Matt,

    It seems that far too often a company’s core values are nothing more than a regurgitation of what the marketplace says they should be. They can talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.

    The best, most respected, companies in the world have real core values and they live and breathe them. Everyone else is just pretending.


    • Right. They key is that “live and breath” part, isn’t it? That’s when you know something is an actual value rather than just something scrawled across a coffee mug.

  • Great article, very good points. I look at it and say if you would leave money on the table because doing so broke your values – then you’re getting close to having real values

    • Boom. Spot-on. I’ve Pat Lencioni say something similar before. Actual core values are things you’d sooner lose money on that violate. The classic example, of course, is the upset Southwest customer who complained about the crew cracking jokes during the safety presentation on the plane, to which Southwest responded “We’ll miss you.” 🙂

  • Yes. I agree 100% Every company/organization should have core values that are reflected in a mission statement. Every employee should have a copy of the mission statement and know what is expected of them, apart from their specific job description. In the hospital in which I worked, which was part of a large corporation ( almost all are, now a days) every employee was required to wear a badge. The badges identify the person by name, and also by position, and department. On the back of each badge appeared the Hospital’s ” Mission Statement”. We were required to have the entire thing memorized. Naturally this was extremely important during JCHAO visits, but more than that, it kept uppermost in our minds precisely what we were there to do. To give a level of patient care, that reflected the very high standards of the hospital’s core values. As such, our hospital usually scored 97-99 out of a possible 100 points. It was a pleasure to work there, though it was much more demanding than the hospital in which I had previously worked. Quite simply, the standards were higher. Those individuals who did not uphold them , were terminated. Those that did were rewarded.The bottom line is that the customers ( patients,) who buy the products in hospitals ( health care services ) were very satisfied as reported in The Press Ganey Surveys each patient was sent upon discharge. Thes surveys were carefully reviewed, and any area that wasn’t given high marks was immediately improved upon.It is actually much easier, in a sense, to work in an environment where the standards are very high, because everyone is working hard,and necessarily must help one another to keep the company’s reputation intact. Any company that loses its “customer base”, be they patients, or grocery store shoppers, will soon find themselves in a negative cash flow, and without subsidization from some other source,will soon hang the proverbial ” Goin out of business sign” in their window. I hope I haven’t misinterperted what you are referring to when you speak of “core values”However, the first thng that came to my mind when I read the above article, was my hospital’s Mission Statement.

  • Great, great read on the importance of values. No matter what they are, they need to be out in the open so the organization can embrace them and have a resulting alignment in them. The lack of core values – and there are no vacuums of values, they always exist – being communicated just masks other suspect motives and agendas. True leadership is being transparent to bare the core soul of the organization. You’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head here, Matt! Thanks for sharing!

  • I agree totally. One aspect that also needs to be considered which is just as important for the success of an organistation is the isuue of hiring staff that ALREADY posses the core values of the organistation, or at least have a strong genuine desire to see those values actualised.

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