When Core Values Become Harmful

You’ve probably heard a lot about core values. Every business needs to know what its core values are. With core values, you can guide your business in the ethical direction you want the business to go.

Sounds great, right?

Until living and leading out the core values intersects with business operations. Then your core values become harmful.

Not to the business itself. No, no, no…

Your core values become dangerous because your employees see you leading with different core values.

This is, as I put it, the danger zone.

When Core Values Become Harmful

If your business has a set of core values, you have to live out those stated values. Otherwise, your team will begin to look at the leadership as hypocrites.

Let’s look at a few core values that leaders may bend or tweak to get around.

Integrity –

Integrity means doing the right thing even when the right thing is difficult. If you find yourself modifying documents, lying to customers, or cutting corners, integrity may not be a core value you want to espouse.

Curiosity –

Lots of organizations claim to be curious. However, when failures happen, team members discover that it’s curiosity that the leadership wants. Instead, leadership wants success without danger.

Teamwork –

Teamwork is great. It makes the dream work. Yet, so many businesses pit their employees against one another. This comes in the form of firing the bottom 10%, having sales contests where there is a single winner, and more. You can’t work together when there’s a chance you could be fired from your job.

Vulnerability –

This word, and core value, gets bantered around a lot in the business world. Everyone wants to be vulnerable… Until it hurts. Vulnerability is more than sharing your mistakes or dreams. Vulnerability goes to sharing who you are. If you’re not sharing who you are, you’re not vulnerable.

Inclusion/Diversity –

Inclusion and diversity are another thing businesses love to tout as doing. However, when you begin to look at the business, you see diversity and inclusion are just buzzwords. The office workers are a majority of white people, everyone is of the same political persuasion, or there’s a hard break between the people working in a production area compared to who’s in the office.

How This Hurts You

You may think those core values are stating what you and your business believe. Rather, you soon discover that your core values are just words on the wall. Worse, your lack of attention to your core values shows the people around you that your words and statements don’t matter.

Your core values hurt your business when you don’t live them out. The people you do business with see this, and they decide that they don’t have to be ethical, caring, or honoring because you’re not. The people you lead see you as hypocritical and stop believing what you say.

If you find yourself in this example, you can turn around. As I state regularly in the Reel Leadership articles, bad leadership can be corrected. Even the worst leaders can be redeemed.

You don’t have to continue to lead your organization away from your core values. Recognize the mistake you’ve been making. Plant a flag in the ground. Chose today to make the necessary changes to begin living out your core values.

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