Why CEOs with No Values Are Winning

by | Oct 6, 2023

Did I get your attention?

I’d like to challenge a commonly held belief in the world of corporate culture: the idea that corporate values matter. Pause right now and list out the values of your organization. I’ll wait.

  1. Could you remember all of them?
  2. Have you ever made a decision because of one of them?
  3. Do they feel personal to you or are they an executive virtue signal tool?

I want to propose a new perspective that might just change the game for your organization.

Values: A Case Against Them

Many organizations have spent countless hours and resources crafting impressive lists of values that they expect their employees to embrace. Harvard Business Review has myriad articles about this practice. It’s a prerequisite in today’s age. But values often fall short of driving meaningful behavior change within the company. Why is that?

  1. Values are personal. They are individual ideals and principles that can vary widely from person to person based on our own upbringing and experiences. As much as we’d like to think that we can get someone to hold a specific value, it’s just not that simple. Telling employees to “collaborate” or “innovate” doesn’t automatically lead to those behaviors. Values, when treated as mere words on a poster, can feel disconnected from the reality of the workplace.
  2. Organizational values don’t drive personal decision making. Have you ever thought, “I wasn’t going to reach out to that other team, but since ‘collaborate’ is a corporate value, I’m going to reach out!” No.
  3. Values are all the same. Collaboration, integrity, respect. Values aren’t a differentiator when everyone picks the same values.
Why CEOs Should Take Note

Before we delve into a solution, let’s explore why this matters, especially for CEOs. In today’s rapidly evolving and dynamic business environment, CEOs are constantly seeking ways to drive their organizations toward success. They want to create environments where employees are engaged, productive, and aligned with the company’s mission. Understanding the limitations of traditional values and embracing the concept of cultural beliefs can be a game-changer for CEOs. It’s about unlocking the full potential of your organization, fostering innovation, and achieving sustainable growth.

Introducing Cultural Beliefs

So, what’s the alternative? Allow me to introduce the concept of “Cultural Beliefs.” Instead of focusing solely on values, consider cultivating a set of shared cultural beliefs within your organization. These beliefs should reflect the essence of your company’s purpose, why it exists, and the positive impact it aims to make on the world. Even more specifically – they’re the key to unlocking your key results.

When employees share feedback, recognition, and storytelling that center around your cultural beliefs, they become the driving force behind their behavior. It’s not about merely saying “collaborate” but fostering a deep-rooted belief in the power of collaboration to achieve the company’s purpose. How do we do that? We point out when collaboration has led to success in achieving our key results to reinforce that behavior. Cultural beliefs tap into the emotional and motivational core of your employees, making them more likely to embrace and embody these beliefs in their daily work.

Replace Values with Cultural Beliefs

So, I encourage you to reconsider the role of values in your organization and start focusing on cultural beliefs rooted in a compelling purpose. It’s not about what you say; it’s about what your employees believe in and how that belief drives their actions. CEOs who understand this shift are the ones who are winning in today’s dynamic business landscape.

Let’s ignite a culture revolution that places purpose and cultural beliefs at the center. Together, we can create organizations that thrive, driven by a shared commitment to something greater than the bottom line.

Elsewhere in Culture

Spoiler Alert: Culture is More Than Pizza and Ping Pong

In the article, Ron Carucci challenges the notion that company culture can be distilled down to surface-level perks like free snacks and a fun atmosphere. Instead, he emphasizes the importance of cultivating a meaningful company culture that goes beyond these superficial aspects. Carucci stresses that a robust company culture is essential for attracting top talent, enhancing productivity, and instilling a genuine sense of purpose among employees.

He underscores the idea that building such a culture is a long-term commitment, requiring consistent effort to shape behaviors that drive success and meaning. Leadership also plays a pivotal role in setting the cultural tone, and it’s crucial for organizational values to be woven into all facets of a company’s operations, creating a clear sense of belonging and purpose among the workforce. To sum it up, this article highlights that a thriving culture is not defined by surface-level perks, but rather by meaningful connections, shared values, inclusivity, effective leadership, and a dedication to ongoing learning and development.

Here here!

Forget Trust Falls: The Simple New Way Strong Leaders Build Trust

This article shines a spotlight on the absolute necessity of trust in the workplace, especially given the startling fact that a whopping 85% of employees are feeling disengaged. It’s a wake-up call for leaders to step up and infuse their teams with a strong sense of purpose. Company culture, often referred to as the heartbeat of an organization, is shown here to be intimately tied to trust, influencing how team members collaborate, innovate, and chase their goals. Trust isn’t some luxury; it’s a strategic essential that can supercharge engagement, innovation, loyalty, and resilience, or the lack thereof can trigger communication breakdowns and productivity dips.

So, what’s the secret sauce to building trust? Storytelling. It’s a magical tool that resonates on a deep, human level, stirring emotions and making information stick. Leaders can use stories to reveal their authentic selves, foster vulnerability, and create a more genuine and trustworthy connection with their teams. Plus, the article dives into three types of trust-building stories, from ones that model growth to stories that set high expectations and those that make data more relatable and accessible. By weaving these stories into the fabric of the workplace, leaders can shape a culture of trust and empathy, reinforcing core values and crafting a more harmonious and productive environment for their teams in our fast-paced world.

Now, let’s revisit one of the strikes that have been on our radar—the biggest healthcare strike in U.S. history.

The Largest Health Care Strike in US History Enters its Second Day | CNN Business

Just as we were catching our breath from the Writers strike wrapping up, another historic labor strike has hit the scene. Let’s rewind to our last chat on this topic when we talked about the Kaiser Permanente workers’ unions overwhelmingly supporting a strike authorization. Fast forward, and we’re now in the midst of the largest-ever healthcare strike in the U.S. Over 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers from various states are making waves, shining a bright spotlight on critical issues in the healthcare industry. Their concerns? Safe staffing levels, overworked healthcare pros, and the serious impact of staff shortages on patient care.

But this strike isn’t just about the numbers; it’s a clear reminder of how company culture plays a massive role in healthcare organizations. It’s not just about flashy perks; it’s about creating a workplace where employees feel valued, safe, and heard. Leadership matters big time because it sets the tone for culture and addresses employee concerns. In healthcare, where lives are on the line, a strong company culture isn’t a nice-to-have but an absolute must. It’s about keeping the workforce motivated and engaged, ultimately ensuring top-notch patient care.