Values Are Never Gray

Values or business ethics are in the news a lot these days from Whole Foods actually selling products with GMOs to the pizzeria in Indiana that was asked a hypothetical question.

valuesIn a social media discussion, one person mentioned that in business, not everything is black or white, there is some gray.

I responded “Values are never gray.”

When working with small business coaching clients, I begin by assessing their decision making styles.  Within this assessment, there is some hint of their business ethics respective to the following:

The next two steps are:

  1. Define the purpose of why you are in business
  2. Define the vision you see for the company

Now many will business coaches will jump into mission statement. I believe this is a miss step, a real big and even fatal miss step. This is the time to discuss values, that being those non-negotiable behaviors everyone will demonstrate as they work together to achieve the vision.  These behaviors are black, white or gold, but never gray.

When I wrote the book Be the Red Jacket in the Sea of Gray Suits, the Keys to Unlocking Sales Success, the second chapter was about values.  I described values as the threads that hold your jacket (think sales role or even small business) together. Additionally I added this point:

“When you don’t know your values, you are just another gray suit.”

Purpose statements, vision statements and mission statements will change as the times change. However, values statements never change.  Your business ethics will always be your business ethics.  Sometimes, individuals and businesses will discover new core values and these can be added, but never deleted.

If you are truly serious about being an ethical business, then your behaviors respective to your core values require alignment and congruency. You and your people must be personally accountable for yours and theirs behaviors. Executive leadership must enforce these business ethics such as ensuring “water cooler” gossip is 100% prohibited.

Yes, what separate great businesses from good business is how they believe all people should act. And accepting that:

Values are never gray.

* * * * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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