Are they values if we don’t follow them?

What are your core values?A few posts ago, I wrote, “Is a value really a value if one doesn’t always practice it?”

In hindsight, I can’t believe I asked such a naive question.

We’re humans. And therefore, we’re fallible. So of course we’re going to fail to live up to our values some of the time.

This includes organizations as well as individuals. While I don’t agree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that corporations have “personhood” and can make donations as such, organizations are nonetheless made up of people, and thus are fallible.

Of course, any organization’s leadership should include checks and balances that prevent egregious mis-steps and flagrantly illegal actions. (I say “should” instead of “must” because we know, obviously, that this is not always the case.)

However – and this is the important point here – if we, individuals and organizations alike, don’t have a clear understanding of our values, we cannot hope to adhere to them. Those organizations and individuals that have clearly-defined, lived values (as opposed to nice-to-have claimed values) are those that succeed.

If I asked whether you have values, I’m sure you’d say, “Of course!” But have you written them down? And have you reached an understanding with yourself as to which value takes precedence when (not if) there’s a conflict between them?

Do you use your values to guide your life?

These questions are just as important for us as individuals as they are for organizations.

Make no mistake, it’s not always easy to live your values, either as a person or as an organization.

And it makes all the difference between just getting by – and having a lasting positive impact on the world.

gljudson Leadership