leadership team doesn't agree on Core Values

Do Your Leaders Really Agree on Your Core Values?

Mike Kotsis EOS - Entrepreneurial Operating System, Leadership

If you’re running on the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, you’re running your business decisions through the filter of your Core Values. Your Core Values guide your hiring, promoting, and firing. They guide your employee reviews. They even guide your day-to-day operations.

But if you aren’t carefully naming, defining, and communicating your Core Values, you could have a company that only appears to be rowing in the same direction. Under the surface, your organization could have any number of cross currents that conflict with one another. And this could go undiscovered for months, or years. 

These cross currents lead to Hitting the Ceiling. Even if your business is generating good revenues and profits, the effort to get there is exhausting. Without the undercurrents, better results come with much less effort. As long as this persists, the Traction™ that your company gains will be held back by the confusion around your Core Values.

This was recently brought to light during one client’s Quarterly Session.

When You Don’t Really Know Your Core Values

We were still in the Check-in of a Quarterly Meeting, and the leadership team was struggling with People Issues. They weren’t quite clear on some of the definitions of their Core Values. They had also just promoted someone new to the Integrator seat, and this was the Integrator’s first Quarterly Session.

We decided to do a real-time performance review of the Integrator in the seat and run them through the People Analyzer™. The exercise revealed that the entire leadership team was unclear on the definitions of two of their five Core Values. 

It is critical to the health of your business to make sure that everyone on your leadership team is 100 percent clear on the definitions of your Core Values. In fact, you need to be fanatical about making each word crystal clear. Everyone on your leadership team should understand your Core Values in the same way. A crack in your understanding on the leadership team shows up like the Grand Canyon to everyone else in the company. It has a tremendously negative ripple effect. But a clear understanding will generate a tremendously positive ripple effect. 

The Ripple Effect of Confusing Core Values

If your leadership team isn’t clear on the definition of your Core Values, it will have tremendous implications for your hiring, reviewing, and firing. While you may be running on EOS®, the results can mimic a company that has no operating system. 

  • Hiring. Leaders who aren’t clear on the Core Values won’t be fully aligned on shaping the interview process around your Core Values. Every leader will hire for something different. As a result, your people at every level of the company are misaligned and rowing in different directions — just as if there were no stated Core Values.
  • Reviewing. Without clarity of your Core Values, leadership team members will conduct very different employee reviews — even if they use the 5-5-5™ during Quarterly Conversations™. Those varying approaches will direct employees to make different kinds of changes, further misaligning your company’s culture. 
  • Firing.The termination process becomes less clear and more difficult when you aren’t aligned on your Core Value definitions. Who do you fire, and when? People who are mediocre at best with alignment to your Core Values tend to linger around the organization way too long. It’s demoralizing, costly, and unproductive for the company.

The Hard Work of H.O.W.

When we realized the leadership team wasn’t clear on a couple Core Values, we People Analyzed everybody in the room — not just the Integrator. It proved tremendously valuable, because it helped the team to flesh out what the Core Values are and truly get everyone exactly on the same page. 

The team further defined the meaning behind each of the Core Values, then used this to update their Core Values speech so they could be crystal clear for each value. 

This leadership team rated each other tough on a few of their Core Values. When they did that, they realized they needed to give each other some really open and honest feedback. Several of them got +/- ratings on several of the values. As we talked through the ratings and fleshed out particular instances, they realized what they needed to do to rise up and become better leaders — and better stewards of their values structure.

This team was able to enter the danger and come out stronger, because each leader was willing to be honest, open, and willing (H.O.W.):

  • Honesty means being honest with yourself, and with everyone else in the room, in the moment. This kind of honesty takes introspection and a foundational mutual respect.
  • Openness can be painful, because it requires you to receive criticisms without defending yourself and without saying anything — just listening. It also means being open to ideas you haven’t thought of — and open to your own intuition.
  • Willingness means being vulnerable, and owning your mistakes. You may need to say aloud, “I don’t know what to do and I need help.”

Having the leadership team People Analyze themselves helped them to get more real with each other. It also helped them to get real with where their issues were on the leadership team. As a result, they learned to be much more open and honest moving this forward.  It was well worth the two hours of IDSing the leadership team.

What’s Your Next Move?

We don’t usually People Analyze everyone on a leadership team beyond Vision Building Day 2™. The Integrator is in charge of regularly reviewing each leadership team member on the Core Values and the GWC in Quarterly Conversations, or if there’s a People Issue on the leadership team. But this time we did it for everyone, and it was a tremendously powerful service to the team.

I recommend that you do this if you aren’t clear on Core Value definitions at any time. When you rate yourselves on the People Analyzer, it helps flesh out why you rated what you rated, and what you meant by it. 

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