I have recently had the privilege of working with a company On Page SEO that is extremely successful by any measure. Even in this economy, it’s growing fast, has a culture that attracts the best talent, wins award after award in its industry, and has a CEO who’s been named local business leader of the year. However, after meeting several of the company’s key executives and employees, it occurred to me that while they had some very clear short-term goals and propelled the company to an iconic level of short-term success, the core values, or what I call the SOUL , and ultimately the company’s long-term success, were in danger of being jeopardized, ironically, by its rapid growth.
When I say SOUL , I don’t mean the “soul” drenched in marketing jargon that marches out as a feel-good statement to employees and the public and then hangs around the office. Did Enron have a soul or a feel-good mission? Did Bernard Madoff’s company have a soul or a feel-good mission? Enron’s 4 values (Integrity, Communication, Respect, Excellence) were carved in marble in the main lobby, but had very little to do with the organization’s true values.
Most corporations have 3 basic components: 1) a skeleton, 2) a central nervous system, and 3) a SOUL .
- The skeleton is the organizational structure of the company and tells the story of how the organization works. It’s very difficult for a company to have the skeleton of a starfish and still behave like a cheetah. Unfortunately, many companies think they have the skeleton of a cheetah, when in reality they have the skeleton of a rake (a dominant leader with a group of people reporting to that individual).
- The central nervous system encompasses the systems that create consistent and predictable outcomes for an organization. As the saying goes, if you don’t design the systems, they will design themselves, often very badly.
- The SOUL of a company comprises the invisible, but very real, NON-NEGOTIABLE vision, core values and goals that are imposed on it every day by the actions, behaviors and passions of the people who created and work in the company. The SOUL of a company is both the most important way for leaders and their team to positively impact the bottom line, and to truly make a significant contribution to making the world a better place…when done authentically.
Put simply, the SOUL of a company is what happens when no one is looking.
WHY DOES YOUR BUSINESS NEED A SOUL?
Having been an athlete my whole life (some would say “competition junkie”), I’ve come to realize one thing that makes a sports team uniquely focused and ultimately poised to win…no matter what, it’s the same thing that defines businesses uniquely focused and ultimately poised to win…no matter what.
This “thing” is the NON-NEGOTIABLE shared vision, values and goals. The SEELE inspires you and your team again and again to the right behavior and anchors you and your team in challenging times. When “corporate tsunamis” hit, and they will, you need to reflect that anchor REAL, CLEAR, and most importantly, the DNA of you and your team.
When you pull an “Enron” and have what I call a “SOUL HOLE” (which means you say one thing and do another), you and your team will no doubt be judged on your actions, and the next stop on this one Travel is hypocrisy. Doubt, fear and cynicism conquer the corporate culture.
PASSION… YOUR SOUL MUST HAVE IT!
There is a dizzying amount of books, articles, blogs, etc. out there about how to come up with your vision and value statement. Quite simply, your vision and values must reflect the passion of you and your team. Every word must have a personal meaning for you and your team. NOT what you want, not what you think feels good for customers and your staff, but what you are NOT willing to negotiate, EVER! Write down your vision, values and goals in a way that reflects who you and your team really are, sprinkle your personalities on top and serve them up to your employees, customers, partners, etc. to enjoy!
The SOUL of your business should be simple, should be memorable and should drive the right behavior.
KEEP THE SOUL ALIVE
If your vision and values aren’t at the forefront in some shape or form in everything you do, in every meeting, in every new appraisal you have, in every decision you make, then you’re leaving while you’re growing or simply with the very real risk it takes time for the SOUL of your company to fade and in extreme cases (eg Enron) dies.
DON’T BE A COWARD, BE A LEADER
If your vision and values are REAL and AUTHENTIC and drive your team’s EVERYDAY behavior, congratulations, you belong to the elite. My guess is that while you may encounter difficulties from time to time, your business will thrive in any crisis it may encounter.
If your vision and values statements are feel-good statements that are rarely discussed and don’t reflect the REAL values of you, your team, and your organization, then don’t be afraid to ask forgiveness of your team and co-workers and embark on a development journey the values and mission that inspire you and your team. Or if your vision and values have lost meaning and meaning during rapid growth or over time, don’t beat yourself up; this is actually a warning sign of your SUCCESS! Instead, use this opportunity to bring your team back together and breathe life back into your vision and values, On Page SEO or adapt accordingly to reflect what is REAL and AUTHENTIC about you, your team, and your organization.
I HOPE YOU HAVE THE COURAGE TO MAKE YOUR BUSINESS AND THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE… HAPPY SOUL IN SEARCH!
KEY QUESTIONS: What do you think? Are core values overrated or are they a must to scale a business? Please add a comment below.