Thoughts on Leadership: How a Company's Core Values Drive Everything

"When you achieve complete congruence between your values and your goals, like a hand in a glove, you feel strong, happy, healthy, and fully integrated as a person. You develop a kind of courage that makes you completely unafraid to make decisions and take action. Your whole life improves when you begin living your life by the values that you most admire." -Brian Tracy When creating Intero in 2002, we made it a priority to immediately establish the company’s core values: integrity, compassion, loyalty, commitment and professionalism. We did not want to leave these key values to chance.

Many leaders neglect to create a system of values in their company from the get-go and are initially more concerned with what will bring the company financial success – investors, lenders, customers, etc. They let the company’s culture create itself, hiring those they feel have a moral head on their shoulders and hoping that consequently the combined principles of those employees will create a company with high values.

Great leaders do not leave their company’s values to chance. They take action and first create a company culture based on their values, knowing that they will attract the people who share their same standards of work.

Last Sunday, my mom handed me an issue of Inc. Magazine, with its headline story titled “How to be an Extraordinary Leader," knowing that I would enjoy this article that promised to outline the strategies of four award-winning CEOs. When I read the article, I was excited to see that the strategies of the four CEOs were all the same: creating a strong set of core values in the company. I was intrigued by the diverse core values that each company embraced and focused on.

The two values that really stood out to me were:

Democracy at Namaste Solar Every employee at Namaste Solar has the opportunity to vote on every decision the company makes. The CEO is “just another guy with a vote.” Decisions are made with a simple thumbs up, thumbs down vote and a 60% supermajority is required for something to pass.

We can learn from Namaste’s value of democracy. Everyone deserves to have his or her voice heard. Communication and collaboration when making decisions is critical to the success of a company because it creates a sense of unity and it ultimately leads to better decisions. Giving each individual a sense of authority and power in a company is important for establishing a genuine concern for the company’s success in every employee and for creating a sense of unity in a team. Democratic decision-making should take place on all levels and in all departments of the workplace. Confident leaders share their power with others.

Teamwork at Menlo Innovations When hiring new employees, Menlo Innovations puts their applicants through “extreme interviewing” in which potential new employees have to work on various projects with different teammates. The entire interview consists of teamwork tasks and interviewees are judged on how good they make their teammate – the other applicant – look. Being a team player is critical in leadership. Strive not to be a supervisor, but to be a team leader.

Like Brian Tracy said, when you achieve complete congruence between your values and your goals, you develop a kind of courage that makes you completely unafraid to make decisions and take action to be a leader. Your whole life improves.