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Are Your Values Really Core?

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March 21, 2013 by eric echols

Regardless of whether or not they are printed, framed, and hung on an office wall…core values exist in every church and organization.

Leadership teams spend meeting after meeting and off-site after off-site crafting their core values into pithy (and tweetable) phrases with the desire to inspire the masses. Far too often, they realize that when these values are revealed it doesn’t generate the excitement they expected. Why?

The reason is that the values presented are not core to the organization. Regardless of what is posted on the church website or hung on the office wall…an organizations real core values are shown by what gets rewarded and the behaviors that get promoted.

For example, a church may say that one of their core values is to make disciples. Great core value. However, when you take a look at what gets rewarded and promoted you find that they really only value reaching a certain size and putting more butts in the pews. Another example is a company that says they value innovation. Yet, the employees that work there know the reality that new ideas that challenge the status quo are often resisted by upper management.

It’s one thing to be able to define your organizations core values, but it’s another thing entirely to have those values define your organization. Anyone can gather a team and shape a set of core values but truly great organizations allow those core values to shape them.

So, how do your core values move from being a poster on a wall to being the driving force of your organization?

1. Decide if you are committed to your current core values.
If your current values define who you are or who you want to become, then you are ready to move to step two. If not, begin by jotting down the values you would like to define your organization.

2. Evaluate what you currently reward and promote.
If they match your defined values…great! Your values are more than a poster on the wall. If it’s not consistent with your core values, change what you reward and the behaviors that get promoted.

3. Filter every decision you make through the lens of your core values.
If your decision lines up with your values, keep moving forward. If it doesn’t, then stop what you’re doing because you are getting off mission.

4. Allow your values to shape your culture.
Core values establish the foundation of the culture. Until the individuals in your organization embody the values, it’s very difficult to do anything else—whether setting goals, solving problems or even making decisions—effectively. Core values determine whether people work in a culture that open and trusting, or in a culture that is tainted by suspicion and tension.

What are some ways that you’ve ensured that your values are core to your church or organization?

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