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Second is authenticity. When you are honest with yourself you can begin to be authentic with yourself.

The Ultimate List of Core Values

To be authentic is to know your desires, needs and intentions and from where your impulse originates from. Third is openness. The authentic self knows that to become more refined, one must be open to new experiences. Openness an important aspect to living authentically.

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Fourth is love. Love is a force that has been described in many cultures as the most powerful emotion of humanity. Honesty allows you to see yourself for who you really are.

We live, breathe and play by our values. Everyday.

Authenticity helps you live in a manner so you can pursue a resonating path. Openness grants you the ability to interpret more information. Love allows you to harmonize with your environment. It is by expanding your capacity to love that you grow to your highest levels of enlightenment.

40 Values I Live By...

Accidental values arise spontaneously without being cultivated by leadership and take hold over time. Accidental values can be good for a company, such as when they create an atmosphere of inclusivity. But they can also be negative forces, foreclosing new opportunities. Managers always need to distinguish core values from merely accidental ones, as confusion here can be disastrous. One fashion apparel company, the Sak Elliot Lucca, initially struggled to distinguish its accidental values from its core. Located in the edgy South of Market district of San Francisco, its early employees were single adults who partied on weeknights and owned a disproportionate amount of black clothing; accordingly, the company was accidentally imbued with the values of these employees—trendy, youthful, and cool.

And older, married workers who could make great contributions might be inadvertently overlooked. Today the Sak is a truly diverse organization, and it has broadened its product line to appeal to a much wider market. Many companies view a values initiative in the same way they view a marketing launch: a onetime event measured by the initial attention it receives, not the authenticity of its content.

Make Your Values Mean Something

Even executives who take values initiatives seriously can sabotage them by adopting blandly nice ideals that fail to differentiate their company from competitors. While these are inarguably good qualities, such terms hardly provide a distinct blueprint for employee behavior. Indeed, some of the most values-driven companies adhere to tough, if not downright controversial, values. Siebel Systems, for instance, adheres to a set of authentic values that flagrantly counter the culture of Silicon Valley, where the company is headquartered.

Intel, likewise, takes pride in the pricklier aspects of its culture. Employees are pushed to embrace the value of risk taking by challenging the status quo and engaging in constructive confrontation. During orientation, for example, new employees are taught the art of verbal jousting without holding on to hard feelings.

“Who the F*ck Am I?”: The Ultimate Guide to Personal Values

And founder Andy Grove is legendary for his willingness to challenge, even berate, executives during meetings. For example, Webcor Builders, a leading construction management firm in the San Francisco Bay area, used its core value of innovation as a strategic compass last year when it decided to purchase one of its vendors, a consulting firm that wired construction firms with high-bandwidth technology.

The acquisition might have seemed foolish for a bricks-and-mortar company in the stodgy construction industry, but it worked. They hand off the effort to the HR department, which uses the initiative as an excuse for an inclusive feel-good effort.

To engage employees, HR rolls out employee surveys and holds lots of town meetings to gather input and build consensus. Most executives understand the danger of consensus-driven decision-making when it comes to strategy, finance, and other business issues, yet they seem oblivious to the problem when it comes to developing values.

Surveying all employees about what values they believe the company should adopt is a bad idea for two reasons. And second, it creates the false impression that all input is equally valuable. Consider what happened when a CEO of a technology company agreed to let the HR department spearhead a values campaign. The best values efforts are driven by small teams that include the CEO, any founders who are still with the company, and a handful of key employees.

Tony Wild, the CEO of pharmaceutical company MedPointe, wanted his business to have a unique culture, so he knew better than to make the values discussion a democratic process. Working with seven top managers, many of whom had helped launch the company, Wild focused on two core values: a can-do attitude and the tireless pursuit of results.

They might be a better fit at another company. It is far more important for a values team to arrive at a statement that works than to reach a decision it may later regret. Executives should discuss values over a number of months; they should consider and reconsider how the standards will play out within their corridors.

Allowing time for reflection proved helpful to an international pharmaceutical company that wanted to establish a common culture after a series of acquisitions.

1. Determine Your Core Values

They discovered that the term held a very different connotation in Europe than it did in the United States. What now? From the first interview to the last day of work, employees should be constantly reminded that core values form the basis for every decision the company makes. Comergent, a young e-business company, has successfully created a strong culture around dependability, dedication, and self-motivation by integrating these core values into every system that directly touches employees.

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During interviews, CEO Jean Kovacs and her staff ask frank questions about workload expectations and past accomplishments. People are evaluated against the core values, and when it comes time to award stock, bonuses, and raises, Kovacs and her team again use the values statement as a metric. Even the decision to let someone go is driven by values. Another company that effectively weaves its values into its organizational fabric is Siebel.

Even bonuses and compensation packages are awarded on the basis of customer satisfaction surveys conducted by an outside auditor. After a company has embedded its values into its systems, it should promote those values at every turn. Given the cynicism surrounding values these days, executives would do well to repeat them every chance they get. Many companies publicize their values on T-shirts and coffee mugs, but the most effective mechanisms are far simpler and less expensive.

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Consider how Nordstrom, a well-known example of a values-driven organization, constantly reminds employees of its core value of customer service. During orientation, rather than receiving a detailed handbook describing how to deliver great service to customers, new employees are told elaborate stories recounting the lengths fellow employees have gone to in order to wow clientele.

And during nonstore hours, managers read customer comments, both positive and negative, over the intercom so that employees can hear firsthand how they are doing. Another company that continually communicates its values, often in a way that verges on corny, is Wal-Mart.