You need to listen carefully for clues that your organization has failed to engage in a deep examination of the company’s core values. If you sense this, or inherit a listless organization, resolve to do something about it right away. Nothing is more important if you want to build a leadership culture.
Company Core Values
Example #1: Starbucks
Starbucks is a good example of an
organization that is clear about its core
values. Note that while all six of their core
values are equally important, the order in
which they appear speaks volumes about
how Starbucks operates.
Starbucks Core Values
1. Provide a great work environment and
treat each other with respect and dignity.
2. Embrace diversity as an essential
component in the way we do business.
3. Apply the highest standards of excellence
to the purchasing, roasting and fresh
delivery of our coffee.
4. Develop enthusiastically satisfied
customers all the time.
5. Contribute positively to our communities
and our environment.
6. Recognize that profitability is essential to
our future success.
Starbucks Core Values
At Starbucks, performance is measured on the
basis of these core values. The information is
translated into a scorecard and readily shared
with managers, who in turn brainstorm ways to
continually improve. All decisions are driven by
these core values. The result? Starbucks has
enjoyed extraordinary growth and is widely
recognized as a high-performing company,
even during times of economic turbulence.
Example #2: Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble is one of the
world’s leading makers of
consumer products. With
billions in sales, P&G has a
reputation for excellence in
marketing. It is a company
whose leaders have assured
its enduring success by
continually reaffirming and
communicating its core values.
Procter & Gamble Core Values
• We attract and recruit the finest people in the world.
• We build our organization from within, promoting and
rewarding people without regard to any difference
unrelated to performance.
• We act on the conviction that the men and women of
Procter & Gamble will always be our most important
• We are all leaders in our area of responsibility, with a
deep commitment to deliver leadership results.
• We have a clear vision of where we are going.
• We focus our goals to achieve leadership objectives
• We accept personal accountability to meet the
business needs, improve our systems, and help others
improve their effectiveness.
• We all act like owners, treating the company’s assets
as our own and behaving with the company’s long-
term success in mind.
• We always try to do the right thing.
• We are honest and straight-forward with each other.
• We operate within the letter and spirit of the law.
• We uphold the values and principles of P&G in every
action and decision.
• We are data-based and intellectually honest in
advocating proposals, including recognizing risks.
• We are determined to be the best at doing what
• We have a healthy dissatisfaction with the status
• We have a compelling desire to improve and to win in
Passion for Winning
• We respect our P&G colleagues, customers, and
consumers and treat them as we want to be treated.
• We have confidence in each other’s capabilities and
• We believe that people work best when there is a
foundation of trust.
Example #3: Wells Fargo
With $390 billion in assets, Wells Fargo is one
of the few survivors of the global banking
crisis. Wells Fargo underscores the importance
of its values by saying that “if we threw out all
the policy manuals, we could still make
decisions based on our understanding of our
culture.” Look at Wells Fargo’s Core Values
and supporting behaviors to decide for yourself
how well they succeeded.
Wells Fargo Core Values
• Maintain the highest standards with customers,
team members, stockholders and our communities.
• Value and reward open, honest two-way
• Be accountable for our conduct and our decisions.
• Only make promises you intend to keep—do the
things you say you’ll do.
• If things change, let people know.
• Avoid any actual or perceived conflict of interest.
• Consider the customer in all we do.
• Exceed the expectations of internal and external
customers—surprise and delight them.
• Do what’s right for the customer.
• Talk and act with the customer in mind.
• Build long-term customer relationships.
• Treat customers with care.
Leadership and Personal Accountability
Every team member contributes to our success and
• Run it like you own it.
• Take prudent risks.
• Lead by example.
• Make decisions locally, close to the customer.
• Know your numbers.
• Consider customer, stockholder, team member and
community needs when making decisions.
• Care about each other.
• Respect differences among team members,
customers and communities.
• Behave in a way that supports our corporate values.
• Take advantage of different perspectives.
• Support the diversity of our team members,
customers, and communities.
• Leverage diversity as a competitive advantage.
Avoid Hollow Values
When you’re defining an
organization’s core values, it’s
critical to avoid making them
sound hollow by inserting, for
example, your own personal
values for those of the
organization, or making the
exercise too cute.
Here’s an example of a set of “core values” that one
management team came up with:
This list is incomplete. It’s also not well-organized. Some are
legitimate core values, such as acting with integrity. Some are key
values, such as celebrating successes. Some obvious core values
are missing. It should come as no surprise that this particular set
of values had little impact on this organization.
• We work as a team
• We act with integrity and honesty
• We champion and celebrate diversity
• We expect and support exceptional service
• We celebrate our successes
• We encourage creativity and innovation
• We care about our community
Symptoms of "Hollow" Core Values
• People “go it alone”— working at odds with one another.
• People aren’t held accountable.
• People are confused about how their activities and performance objectives
tie into the organization.
• People take actions contrary to the organization’s interests.
• People are reluctant to ask tough questions or clarify their priorities.
• Failure to identify the organization’s core values and communicate them.
• Failure to communicate and clarify the core values throughout the
• Failure to articulate performance measures tied to core values.
• Lack of feedback and performance measurement tied to the core values.
• Lack of training tied to the core values.
Here’s another example
of what I consider to be
hollow values from
Jamba Juice, a health-
oriented seller of fruit-
based shakes and other
products. Its values spell
out the word “fiber.” The
sentiment behind these
values is heartfelt. But
they don’t reflect what’s
essential to Jamba Juice.
It’s a cute marketing
gimmick, not a reflection
of what’s truly important
to the company.
Fun – Have fun. Smile and create a spirit of celebration
for your customers.
Integrity – Do what you say. Demonstrate good
character and encourage an atmosphere of mutual
trust and respect.
Balance – Live a balanced life. Consider the needs of
customers, team members, and shareholders alike.
Empowerment – Believe in yourself. Be responsive and
innovative. Do whatever it takes to make your
Respect – Be respectful. Help each other to grow.
Contribute to a vibrant and diverse community.
Jamba Juice Core Values
You need to listen carefully for clues that your organization
has failed to engage in a deep examination of the
organization’s core values. If you sense this, or inherit a
listless organization, resolve to do something about it right
away. Nothing is more important if you want to build a