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Values are like fingerprints – everyone’s are different but they appear on everything you touch.

I just recently had a discussion with a company that was a mere three years old who had experienced abundant success. The success had just happened…..but something more was needed if this company was going to build a legacy. Culture comes from knowing and living the personal values in a way that changes lives. Russell Conwell, in his book Acres of Diamonds says, “If you wish to be great at all, you must begin where you are and with what you are.”

A business starts with people and ideas placed into motion. If done right the entrepreneur incorporates his values and personal mission statement into the company’s vision, values and culture. If done wrong they write these mission and value statements in a business plan only to tuck them away like a family bible and then are confused why the company is wandering. “More often than not, a person’s actions say a lot about whether or not his compass is calibrated by values.”

Companies play a significant role in the lives of people today. Researcher, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner found in studies that “followers follow character and character begins with honesty and integrity.” Values have to take center stage.

“I look for three things in people. The first is personal integrity, the second is intelligence, and the third is a high energy level. But if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” Warren Buffett, CEO Berkshire Hathaway.

When company’s incorporate their values into their business operations they should expect to see an increase in employee participation, which increases employee satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. In other words, actually living and reinforcing a written set of values increases the trust, happiness, and profitability of companies.

The process of developing your values has only four steps.

• Knowing and understanding your values (write them, test them and commit to them)
• Regularly sharing your values and aligning yourself with people who embody them.
• Systemization and internalization of your values.
• Hold your executive leadership team to these values – play the beep game.
• Engage your staff to “beep you” every time they see you breaking a value in your actions. Watch your leadership grow and your company do the same
• Measuring your performance with values
• Ask customers to survey how you are living out your values

Values play an important part in the success and happiness of our employees and company’s life. They remind us of the kinds of choices we want to make and the kind of people we want to be. When we identify with our values, we discover a deeper part of ourselves that makes us who we are.