4 Reasons to Identify Your Organization’s Values

Provide Your Team the Clarity They Need

This is a guest post by my friend, Charles W. Smith Jr. He serves as the Vice President of Institutional Relations at Midwestern Seminary and College. He is the husband to his high school sweetheart, Ashley, and dad to his three girls. Follow him on Twitter at @Charleswsmithjr.

According to Patrick Lencioni, “Organizational values are the deeply ingrained principles and cultural cornerstones that guide all of a company’s actions.” These values inform a broad range of organizational realities including cultural expectations, team dynamics, and even strategic priorities. When properly practiced, values provide operational clarity. Here are 4 reasons why your organization needs to identify its values:

  1. Values help develop and protect culture. One of the most important benefits of organizational values are their ability to help develop and protect a healthy organizational culture. For organizations without formalized values, creating them will help establish a culture within your team. Over time your new team will evolve and if properly used, those same values will protect the culture you worked so hard to create.
  2. Values help inform and protect strategy. In a similar way, organizational values also help develop and protect your team’s strategy. For example, Desiring God, a Christian organization that develops and distributes biblical resources, lists “radical generosity” as one of their organizational values. When the opportunity came to charge for their online content, they declined the offer citing their commitment to radical generosity.
  3. Values provide the framework for effective delegation and sustainable growth. At its core, delegation is an act of trust. Trust that the individual is capable to deliver on the request, but also trust that the individual has the tools necessary to act on your behalf. For the delegation of simple tasks, those “tools” are fairly common and do not require a sophisticated understanding of the organization’s mission, vision, and values. However, as a leader grows in his responsibility and oversight, so will the responsibilities of his direct reports. Your team will now need a working understanding of the organization’s vision, mission, and values to develop an effective strategy. If your vision, mission, and values are unclear, this level of delegation is impossible.
  4. Values help the organization outlast you. Not only do values help an organization grow beyond your individual capacity as a leader, but they also help ensure the organization outlasts your tenure. Good leaders lead because they are convicted that what their particular organization does is worth doing with or without them.

Even the best leaders often fail to establish organizational values and thereby limit the organization’s identity to themselves. Be a good steward of your leadership by establishing and communicating organizational values that will outlast you.

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