Living Business Values

Category: Internal Brand

When you start a business, you come into it with your own vision and values of what the company stands for.


When you hire your first employee, if you are smart, you will share your vision and values and now there are two people working towards them. If you are too busy, or don't think that it's important to share them, you now have two people working on their own personal visions and values. The first company will grow faster and stronger.

The next challenge is to maintain your vision and business values as the company grows and hires more people. By documenting the organization’s vision and values and actively living them, the company stands a much better chance of maintaining them and growing strongly.

However, documentation alone is not enough. Values must be constantly lived and reinforced.

  • Celebrate - Specifically, leadership needs to celebrate and share ‘right actions’ – when an individual or group of individuals does exactly the right thing in uncertain circumstances.
  • Forgive - Leadership must also be quick to forgive those who attempt to apply the philosophy but have unfortunate results. These must be turned rapidly into learning opportunities rather than moments of shame.
  • Reinforce - And most importantly, leadership must not actively or passively excuse the actions of those who succeed but do so by violating the business values. For example, rewarding or ignoring the practices of a top sales person simply because she is bringing in so much revenue.

The business vison and values provide guidance. But actions always speak louder than words. It’s essential that business values be applied to everyone in the company equally and democratically. If someone behaves in a manner that is contrary to stated business values, the results should be the same whether that person is the Executive VP of Operations or a Mail Clerk. This is truly living business values!