A wise person once said, there are no statues of committees. But what if there were. Would your executive team get one? Executive teams provide strategy and leadership to drive performance. But good teams aren’t simply the right people with the right organization design. “Executive alignment” isn’t just a business buzz-word. It’s essential. When executives are not aligned, they can wreak havoc on an organization. The effects range from lack of coordination between functions to the emergence of warring factions. At a minimum, we see unnecessary competition for resources, hoarding of information, inefficiency, waste, and missed business objectives. The outcome is a decline in performance and organizational effectiveness.
The solution: executive teams must determine their values. These values provide framework – a set of shared ideas to guide the organization. Leadership values are like the organization’s soul. They answer questions like: Who are we as a business? Are we innovative, eco-friendly, or safety-focused? How do we get things done, through process or people? How do we treat each other; are we supportive or competitive? Values provide consistency – a foundation for the organization.
There are several steps teams must take to reap the benefits of a values-based organization. Here’s how to get started:
Determine Your Values
The leadership team must discuss and agree on their values. Start by brainstorming, then remove anything that’s not a value, but instead a strategy, tactic, or initiative. If you end up with a long list of values, distill it to the essentials – discarding the weaker suggestions and combining values that are similar. Shoot for a list short enough that everyone can remember it – no more than eight.
Share, Live and Celebrate Your Values
Use your values at leadership meetings. When making decisions, filter them through your values. Make sure they are understood at every level of the organization. Executives should talk to managers; managers should talk to employees. Use them in company communications. Build them into performance management. Highlight your top performers who demonstrate the values. Reinforce them during company celebrations. Partner with other companies and charitable organizations that share your values.
Share Your Values with the World
Values are an important part of your brand. Make your values visible in marketing and recruiting. They will strengthen both your customer brand and your employment brand.
Validate Your Values.
Pressure-test those values during annual strategic planning. Discuss the relevance of each and how it is demonstrated throughout the organization. Does one need more focus from leadership? Any that are no longer relevant? A value that should be added? Change the list thoughtfully, though; values are meant to endure.
Aligning around your values is well worth the effort. Knowing who you are and what you believe in, as an organization, brings incredible clarity, focus and success.