In many ways, values are about a culture – the kind of organisation you want to be. The kind of organisation you want your staff and customers to see you as.
We are fortunate at Leader. Our culture was established almost 60 years ago by our founder, Bryan Holden. He set up Leader with a mission to ‘bring clients joy’ and the following credo:
- Winning a new client is not a God-given right, it is a privilege.
- Recommendation is the best way of winning new business.
- Never rest on your laurels.
- Make each client feel they are Number One.
- Your company is a living, breathing entity. Keep it well nourished.
- Your employees are all important. They are the company’s most valuable assets.
- A closed door is but one door nearer to an open door.
- Always think positive. Negative thoughts only breed negativity.
- A sound understanding of the would-be client’s business, plus enthusiasm is vital to winning the account.
- Celebrate a winning pitch with a star jump!
This remains our foundation: as relevant now as it was back then. It also fuelled our values and still shapes the business we are today. Yes, we do still do a star jump!
- Partnership This reflects how we work with clients and how we operate as a business, as a community for the common good
- Passion We will always foster creativity and aspiration. We must be prepared to be courageous
- Performance Good enough is never enough. We know to deliver great work we must challenge each other. Challenge that is always balanced with a sense of solidarity and generosity
- Provenance Founded in 1965, we have a proud history of being a resilient and sustainable business. We remain committed to survive and thrive in the long term as an employee-owned business
But what does this mean in the everyday? Being values-led must mean action as well as words.
For us, it means the quality of service we provide. Or bringing clients joy, as Bryan put it. To do this, we have a business model where the most experienced people in our team do the lion’s share of client work. The entire model of the business is designed to deliver on our values.
For other businesses they will have their own fundamental purpose. Something that means more than just numbers on a balance sheet.
Whatever your values are, whatever you want to be, the key is the everyday. It is rare to find a business that doesn’t care about what they do, but still common to find one that has not fully explored a values-led approach.
When done well, finding that purpose – those shared values – can be a hugely rewarding exercise. It can galvanise staff behind a common purpose. It can establish your commercial position in the market. It can deepen your client and partner relationships, for mutual benefit.
But this must always be more than a section on your website, or motivational messages in the staff canteen. Values must be rewarding. They should encourage the right behaviours. More importantly, they should discourage the wrong behaviours. This means buy-in from the boardroom to the post room. Placing the values at the heart of operations and rewarding them.
They must be that foundation for a culture. Simply put, they must be lived.
Our recent move to becoming employee-owned only further reinforces our values. Everyone has a stake in our future, everyone shares a single purpose. Shared values, shared ownership, shared success.
So, what is the value of values? Done well, they can make all the difference.