I recently wrote about leading your team without compromising your brand. One of the tenets I presented was sharing with your team your compelling, genuine vision imbued with values you and they share. How can you identify and share this vision and these values?
We each see the world through our heritage of personality, experience, expertise, and values.
A software programmer develops her expertise. A doctor of integrated medicine develops his. A marketing specialist see the world and how to solve its problems through her lens, and an educator, through his.
Imagine they each are on the same interdisciplinary team of a big startup venture. It’s not an unfamiliar scenario.
How do they speak the same language in order to communicate, solve problems, and collaborate with momentum? What happens when their blossoming vision meets the reality of execution and market need?
I recognized these challenges – not for the first time – while facilitating a company team retreat.
Yet, regardless of your position or work life, similar questions apply. If you’re a freelancer working on a team, or if you’re a professional, creative, or service provider who hires contracted assistants or specialists, you likely have faced or will face similar challenges in communicating to people from different backgrounds and fields of expertise.
If you do not address these differences intentionally and up front, Project Block or Project Train Wreck could result.
Why? Because inevitably as a company or small business starts to test what is executable and viable, the big vision must shift. People with a stake in the original vision might try to hold onto their piece or take the shift personally.
What could result are patterns of passive-aggressive communication, unspoken resentments, unintentional self-centered points of view.
What to do?
Dive into and define core values first.
As a vision shifts, values stabilize you or/and your team. When inevitable challenges in communication and vision shift arise, you can return to the core values as a citadel for why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Specifically, define inward-facing values – the values you hold dear when working with other people.
If you’re a one-person show who might hire contractors or employees in the future, get clear on how you prefer to work with others.
If you’re a founder, manager, or CEO, it’s never too late to pull back and ask your team what their values are when working with others.
Numerous big brands – from Lincoln Motor Company to Starbucks – have gotten off-track as they’ve grown. Part of what helped them get back on-track and open to new possibilities was returning to their founding values.
Once you define your 4-5 core or shared values, you can start to form a creed. A creed works as a pact – a pact among team members, a pact with your best self, a pact with your hero-customers and patch of the planet.
When I was a one-wonderer team with an assistant many moons ago, I formulated this outward-facing creed that has guided us in our growth. It’s our CODE OF WONDER:
- We aspire for our products, services, and programs to help our customers captivate & elevate their audiences with meaningful work while finessing their own life of meaning & making.
- We aspire to create products, services, and programs that are at once meaningful, elegant, and functional. We will scrutinize the quality of everything we do and that we present to meet these standards.
- We aspire to create business systems that make everyone’s lives simpler by being mindful, precise, efficient, and relevant. We aim to scrutinize any technology or, for that matter, any personal habit inconsistent with this aspiration.
- We believe that wonder – and its cousins of delight, openness, and surprise – should be part and parcel of a work life of making.
This Code of Wonder has allowed us to maintain focus as we’ve grown the TW team.
Do I and the team fall short some times? Yes, especially me, but I and others on the team also endeavor to model constant improvement – with integrity, not perfection.
Defining your core values is just one piece of discovering and shaping your brand Story. If you are curious about a meaningful approach to branding or re-branding that lights you up from the inside-out and in turn lifts up your community, I invite you to take a sneak peek at my four-month branding mentorship program, ArtMark™ Brand Story & Strategy. Public registration isn’t yet open, but if you’d like more information on branding with integrity, sign up for our early notification list and I’ll give you exclusive first access to registration for this highly-effective learning expedition.
Once you have your company’s core values co-created, here are four action items you can take to assure you’re living them:
- When you seek talent, interview with questions that foreground your company values, not just the person’s capabilities.
- When you train new talent, have the trainee observe whether or not the new talent is embracing the values through action, not words.
- When you reflect upon your own leadership, review your company’s core values to be honest with yourself about how well you are modeling those values and modeling your own growth.
- When you have meetings or performance reviews, foreground the company core values as a reminder of what guides your collective actions, attitudes, and decisions.
If you lead or are part of a company, how do you keep the company core values front and center when seeking, retaining, and growing talent?
Thanks for running with me,