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Core Values: Beyond the Buzzword Poster on the Wall

It happened again last week. We walked into a new client’s office, and there on the wall were their mission statement and core values. My eyes scanned the list, quickly recognizing the same boring jargon and buzzwords I’ve seen 5,000 times before. Seriously?!

Most business owners’ hearts are in the right places when choosing core values. But are your core values rooted in ideas that actually inspire your team? Or are they a mashup of overused words and phrases that fall flat and do nothing to drive your momentum forward?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about why we put so much emphasis on defining core values:

Do your core values actually matter?
Why do they so often miss the mark?
And what role do they play in driving your business results?

When crafted authentically and lived out with intention, an organization’s core values can be a powerful driving force. But more frequently, they fail to move the needle because:

  • The words on the wall don’t align with the company’s actual behaviors and culture. The values are simply lofty ideals rather than demonstrated principles.
  • They lack originality and feel hollow—a mashup of vague, expected platitudes rather than something personal and distinctive to that business.
  • The core values are unrealistic and ultimately unrelatable for employees and customers alike.
  • Worst of all, perhaps, the leadership team doesn’t consistently reference or reinforce the values, so they carry no accountability.

In contrast, well-developed and actively-embodied core values can generate tremendous impact, including:

  • Guided decision-making that keeps the company centered on its principles.
  • Shaping behaviors across the workforce, from leadership down to frontline employees.
  • Cultivating the organization’s culture in a cohesive, self-perpetuating way.
  • Improving the ability to attract and retain top talent aligned with the values.
  • Building brand loyalty and trust, both internally and among customers appreciating the authenticity behind the brand.

The cumulative effect? Elevated engagement, motivation, teamwork, customer satisfaction, and brand equity—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It all starts with an honest, thoughtful articulation of the core values…
…And a steadfast commitment to living them out daily through the company’s actions.

Don’t let your core values become another corporate buzzword poster on the wall that everyone ignores. Embracing and embodying them through every facet of your organization is how core values can catalyze growth and positive impact.

Ready to replace your yawn-worthy core values with unique, meaningful, robust, and strategic values your company can grow on? Get started with our free worksheet, Defining the Core Values of Your Business.

Inside, you’ll get:

  • A list of 100 momentum-driving key values, so you can easily brainstorm words that reflect the attitudes you want to see in your company.
  • A simple, step-by-step process to rank the core values you’re considering, get valuable external insight, and whittle down your list to a few top contenders.
  • An exercise to turn your core value words into actionable, engaged statements that will activate your team and drive results.

 

Get started with our free tool: Defining the Core Values of Your Business.

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