Your Core Values Filter
Your Core Values Filter
Each day organizations are presented with an array of choices. I’ve been reflecting on how leaders make those choices and the impact they have on things small and large. Is what governs your decisions solely profit and loss or do beliefs beyond that help you discern the best path forward? I believe when a judicious purpose statement and galvanizing core values permeate an organization as a set of embodied actions and beliefs, it creates a more authentic and trust-building atmosphere that is felt by your customers, employees and key stakeholders.
According to Gallup, great managers, “build relationships based on trust, dialogue and transparency.” I believe as a leader it begins with, “walking the walk.” That the most effective leaders exemplify their company’s values through their own actions.
When considering the application of core values in everyday decisions, I am reminded of my time with my past business venture (Fauxgerty) that centered its practices around sustainability. This particular value has become trendy in the retail space, specifically the fashion sector, but it was a value we agreed on well before it was chic to post #ethicalfashion. Companies across the United States and beyond now lean on sustainability as a marketing tool. They promote a product in a way that allows customers to feel positive about their purchase but the decisions and actions the organization makes beyond that product itself rarely reflect sustainability.
At Fauxgerty, yes, we promoted this value in our advertising and product description, but it went further than the release of an upcycled dress or using high tech faux leathers and suedes. I remember reviewing an email from one of our employees who wanted me to confirm a purchase of shipping supplies. A task I normally breezed through, but in this particular instance there was shipping tape that cost a few dollars more per roll than normal. I looked into it and found this item was rated as the most sustainable tape on the market, biodegradable, etc, but much more expensive. I pushed back on the employee but their conviction of it being a decision a company like ours should make convinced me. We started using this tape when shipping all of our products. It increased our indirect costs for each sale, which was frustrating, but to our product manager’s credit it made our shipping process the most sustainable on the market. Too often, companies sell vintage or upcycled products to, “help reduce your carbon footprint,” but then ship their items in plastic bags, plastic tape, and packaging materials that contribute to a less sustainable process. Our customers noticed our attempt to create a more environmentally friendly shipping experience and started emailing our customer service with praise and thanks. We received credit on our social media pages and were recognized by international fashion blogs and apps as one of the most sustainable brands in the U.S. We didn’t choose to practice sustainability when it was convenient. Rather it guided and informed our decisions. Our actions were felt by our customers which increased our trust factor within our niche audience. It was a small, but proud moment for me as a manager.
So, how does this apply to your business regardless of your values? Think of your core values as a filter. A filter through which all of your choices as a leader and team must pass through. Choices that align with your company’s values demonstrate consistency to your customers, employees, and vendors. However small or large these choices are, each conveys whether you are the type of organization that “talks the talk” or goes above and beyond to “walk the walk”. The recently deceased Harvard Business professor Clayton Christensen wrote, “It’s easier to hold your principles 100% of the time than it is to hold them 98% of the time.” When our values become something we lean on out of convenience rather than hold as a standard, trust among employees and clients begins to wane. And if we ever need an incentive to do what we say, a stat that drives this home is organizations with high levels of trust outperform the S&P 500 by a factor of three.