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Are your Values above-the-line?

When I ask my clients what values they want to create for their team, the first response is often something like honesty, integrity, openness.

These are okay as far as they go, but the trouble is that if you have to explicitly state honesty as a value, there is an implicit assumption of dishonesty. You probably wouldn’t want someone on your team who needed to be told to be honest!

I call these types of values “below-the-line” values, norms below which you don’t want to slip. They are not generally inspirational – I don’t wake up in the morning thinking “great, I’m going to be honest today”

Another category of values are “above-the-line” values, ones that call on people to behave in a certain way, such as empathetic, optimistic, inclusive, etc.

These provide a compass for your leadership. They also make delegation easier, people know how they should treat others, how they should make decisions etc.

These types of values are input values. They define how to behave. They are different from output-values such as achievement-oriented. If your people behave in a certain way (input), you will achieve success (output).  This follows the same logic as lead KPIs vs. lag KPIs – you can’t control the amount of new business won, but you can control the number of referrals you ask for.

Remember it is better to have three powerful values that are at the forefront of everybody’s thinking rather than seven values that people struggle to remember.

I’d love to hear what “above-the-line” values you would like to create for your team – please let me know below.

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