Why Values are Meaningless

If you have been to one of my many talks on social media, you will have heard me refer to Zappos’ (Family!) core values. Here they are:

Now, I have no way of knowing whether every employee lives, breathes or articulates these directly or indirectly but they strike me as pretty radical compared to the slew of me too values that I read every week:

“Client centric”

“Your business is our business”

“We believe in the power of collaboration, collegiality and teamwork and we have an open, approachable style”

The point is that I have never heard any enterprise leader default to the core values of the business as a way of developing the business. They are secondary to the overriding need to make a profit, at all cost.

[E.g how much fun did we have today?]

I have for a long time lamented the fact that too many businesses, including professional service firms, do not discern when taking instructions whether the new or existing client chimes with the values of the firm. It should be obvious that any putative client that doesn’t align with your values should not be accepted into the fold. Of course, this is easier said than done. Who knows when you speak to a client whether and to what extent they will turn out to fit the values that you hold so dear?

But too often the weighting is towards the net worth or monetary value of the client, as opposed to the type of client that fits with the sort of business you want to become.

It should be obvious though that like attracts like. Too often you fudge the issue so that it is not clear what, if anything, you stand for.

My advice is to take your values beyond a vanity statement and ask yourself if they do properly reflect who you are. If not, you either need to ditch the values and just accept that as long as people pay it doesn’t matter a fig how they act, or you need to develop a strong sense of purpose that if your clients don’t pass the values threshold you will not act for them.

Think carefully about your values. If you do care to write another long blurb make sure you are willing to stand by them.

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I am available for speaking, consulting and one on one coaching. Please feel free to email me at juliansummerhayes@gmail.com or contact me on 075888 15384.

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