Vision without a clearly established set of values will hinder an organization from achieving it’s maximum impact. One of the key competencies we teach church planters at LAUNCH is “Evaluate your core values and integrate them into the DNA of your church”. Church planters are some of the most optimistic, enthusiastic, visionary leaders on our planet. I see it all the time, God captures a young energetic leader and burns a vision into his heart and he becomes virtually unstoppable. But sometimes those very same leaders become discouraged or disillusioned when their God given vision doesn’t seem to be getting traction.
Leaders love to think, dream and inspire people to pursue a better future. While this type of visioning is essential for organizational direction, if the leader doesn’t provide a clear set of values it may be difficult to achieve the desired outcomes. Having a clear vision doesn’t ensure the necessary behaviors to achieve that vision. That’s why the church planter must invest as enthusiastically in values as he does in the vision of his church. Values are not cute “statements” that you post in the hallway of your office. Values are the core behaviors that define the very fabric of who you are. Values describe how you will behave on a day-to-day basis. In fact, personally I’ve stopped using the word values and have substituted it with “core behaviors”.
You may have a great vision but if the people in your organization don’t operate according to a unified set of core behaviors you will find yourselves unable to move forward in an aligned and productive way.
What are the essential core behaviors (values) for your church? How well are those demonstrated in the attitudes and actions of the leaders in your organization? What adjustments need to be made to ensure that all leaders are living out those core behaviors?
A wise leader of any organization will spend significant time thinking through and carefully crafting organizational values. He understands as the team lives out these prescribed behaviors the organization is more likely to accomplish its mission. While listing Core Values is a common practice, unfortunately living out core values is not. In many cases organizational values are posted on a wall and forgotten or ignored. In other cases the values are defined but no one is sure how they integrate into the daily life of the organization. As a result the values lack the power and influence they’re intended to have. So how do know if your values are adding value?
Here are four indicators that may help you find out.
Everyday language: You know your values are adding value when they become the common language that team members are using on a day-to-day basis. Keywords or phrases from your defined values are showing up in everyday conversations, meetings and in the way that others describe your organization. These words or phrases become insider language that your people understand and use to help move your organization towards the mission. If you’re values are not showing up in everyday language it’s likely they’re not adding value.
Decision Making: Values can add a great clarity to your decision-making. Every decision you face has multiple options and the option you choose will either keep you on or get you off mission. Your values (I actually prefer to call them Core Behaviors) are a set of a pre-decided ways that you and your organization will behave. Therefore if a decision doesn’t align with one or all of your values then you need to find an option that will. These pre-decided behaviors are intended to keep you on mission. If you’re not referring to your values in the midst of decision making then they’re not adding value.
Changed Behavior– Not everyone you bring into your organization automatically reflects your values. That’s okay at the beginning but a clearly established set of values that are communicated regularly will overtime shape the behaviors of the individuals on your team. This will bring greater alignment to the way people behave, think and make decisions in your organization. If your values are not shaping the behaviors and decisions of individual team members they are not having their intended impact.
Clear Reputation – It doesn’t take too many touches for people outside your organization to quickly discern what you value. Whether we like it or not what we value is highly visible. This is why one of the leaders greatest responsibilities is to manage and shape the corporate culture of his or her organization. We do this by modeling and teaching the values/behaviors we expect. When team members live out the values in daily activity others quickly pick up on “how we behave around here”. And it’s those day-to-day expressions of our values that establish the reputation of our organization. What is your church or company known for? If you’re unhappy with the answer to that question then your values are not adding value.
What next steps do you need to take to ensure that your values are adding value?
When executed properly core values define the way a company operates, gives clarity for decision making and assures greater engagement of employees. However most leaders invest all their energies on vision and tend to neglect values.
Leaders love to think, dream and inspire people to pursue a better future. While this type of visioning is essential for organizational direction, if the leader doesn’t provide a clear set of values it may be difficult to achieve the desired outcomes. Having a clear vision doesn’t ensure the necessary behaviors to achieve that vision. That’s why it’s essential the leader invest as enthusiastically in values as he does in the vision. There may be a great vision but if the people in the organization don’t operate according to a unified set of values they will find themselves unable to move forward in a productive way.
What are the essential core values for your organization? How well are those demonstrated in the attitudes and actions of the leaders in your organization?