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Create Your Corporate Values By Choice, Not By Accident

05/28/2015 12:00AM

By Glenn Llopis

 

Co-Authored by Robert Wolcott, Co-Founder & Executive Director of KIN Global and Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the Kellogg School of Management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an interview with one of the authors, founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, T.J. Rogers, commented, “Values are the things you get for free.” Rogers didn’t mean that having good values is free. He meant that whatever your company’s values actually are—good or bad—will guide people’s actions. To succeed long-term, leaders must ensure they’re nurturing the right corporate values.

What happens in the workplace translates into marketplace performance. Shared values cultivate a corporate culture that should serve as the ultimate platform to drive growth, innovation and opportunity. Without the right shared values everyone can embrace, corporate cultures harbor contradictions and conflicts, fueled by silos where leadership agendas abound and disengaged employees lack the right mindset to perform at their best.

Effective corporate cultures support high-performance through both diversity of thought and like-mindedness in approach, style and attitude. Strong corporate cultures blend the strengths of people while celebrating their individuality and authenticity in support of an organization’s vision and mission. It takes great leadership to keep corporate cultures on the right path and continuously improving.

Leaders, regardless of hierarchy or rank, must be held accountable to communicate, illustrate and reinforce the values that will help the company achieve its missions.

In today’s rapid-paced, talent-based, trust-demanding world of work, remaining competitive requires the following set of values, beliefs and behaviors.

These characteristics represent my organization’s proven methodology for strengthening corporate values and cultures and the leadership competencies of Fortune 500 companies for nearly a decade. They are the foundation upon which organizations grow and reinvent themselves – by supporting transformation and change management; authenticity and agility; corporate social responsibility and sustainability; innovation and creativity.

A well-defined corporate culture for the 21st century provides the following shared values to sustain high-performance and competitive advantage through these six characteristics:

1. The Inspiration to See Opportunities In Everything

A 21st century leader sees opportunities everywhere, every day, and makes the most of them. Many are opportunities others don’t see.

Associated behaviors include:

  • Visionary, Forward Thinking
  • The Glass is Always Half Full
  • Sees Things Others Don’t
  • Introduces New Ways of Doing Things
  • Hopeful, Positive Attitude

2. The Flexibility to Anticipate the Unexpected

Because 21st century leaders can see opportunity in everything, it gives them wide-angle, circular vision to anticipate crisis and manage change before circumstances force their hand.

Associated behaviors include:

  • Strategic Focus
  • Change Agent
  • Crisis Management is Second-Nature
  • Adaptable; Flexible
  • Works Well Under Pressure

3. The Freedom to Unleash Your Passionate Pursuits

21st century leaders inspire and motivate others through their own passion and commitment.

Associated behaviors include:

  • Beliefs
  • Courageous
  • Pioneer/Trailblazer
  • Strives for Excellence
  • Explorer of Possibilities

4. The Room to Live With an Entrepreneurial Spirit

21st century leaders are entrepreneurial by nature, constantly building relationships, taking smart risks, learning rapidly – all with the objective of making a positive impact.

Associated behaviors include:

  • Connects the Dots
  • Effectively Utilizes Resources
  • Values Relationships; Invests in People
  • Focused on Building Momentum
  • Always Looking to Make Things Better

5. The Trust to Work With a Generous Purpose

21st century leaders must understand the importance of having everyone’s best interests at heart. They work with a generous purpose and fuel momentum for themselves and others.

Associated behaviors include:

  • Promotes Honest and Direct Feedback
  • Trust, Transparency
  • Promotes the Spirit of Giving and Sharing
  • Advances Themselves by Serving Others
  • Have Each Other’s Backs 

6. The Respect to Lead To Leave a Legacy

Success comes most to those surrounded by people who want their success to continue. 21st century leaders understand the importance of reciprocity and how legacies are built.

Associated behaviors include: 

  • Team First Mentality; Collaboration
  • Treats Others Like Family
  • Sustainability, Reciprocity
  • Respect Before Recognition
  • Protects What They Stand for

If you are currently experiencing transformation in your corporate culture, put your leadership to the test. Take the Workplace Culture Assessment that was designed to measure each of the aforementioned six characteristics (if you score above 50, you are on the right track).

As T.J. Rogers instructs, nurturing corporate values that support and protect long term success requires vigilance and constant attention from leadership at all levels. The values you promulgate within your organizations should be explicit, thoughtful and authentic. In a world of rapid change, increasing transparency and competition for the best talent, leaders that fail to commit to who they are as a company will put their companies and their people at great risk. Make culture a conscious choice, not an accident.

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The cultural demographic shift™ in the United States is about the workplace and marketplace telling us that it is becoming less about the business defining the individual and more about the individual defining the business. This is exactly why Hispanics – both entering the workplace in search of the right employer who will allow them to be their authentic selves as well as those professionals who have been battling the gulf between assimilation and authenticity – are now ready to advance as 21st century leaders by activating their immigrant perspective; that is, the influence their cultural values have on the natural ways they think, act and are motivated to perform at work.