Values are like fingerprints, nobody’s are the same; But you can leave them over everything you do!
I have always had this stimulating and quite a vocal conversation with almost everyone in my eco-system – What are Values? How important are they especially in today’s cut-throat competitive world where the race is unending, and there is no final goal post?
Surprisingly everyone has shared his or her version, and it’s time for me to share mine too. For me, as an individual, Values are intrinsic, personal, emotional, and aspects that guide my behavior. They are what we are born with, more like fingerprints with our unique impressions created by the friction ridges of our unique fingers. However, as soon as I put up the organizational lens, I realize that Values become much more important and imperative for an organization’s success. The organization’s Values not only set the tone for the company’s culture but more importantly articulate what your organization cares about. Thus, making it easy to align every individual’s Values with the larger Values. Eventually, they become your North Star which employees follow and align with, in totality to achieve the goal. While many carve their Values, one must also accept that at times, the intent to follow it, inflicts pain. Sometimes, even a minor deviation may result in severe criticism because of the constant presence of the “red-eye”.
Having said that, several individuals and organization’s stand prominently when it comes to living and abiding the Values despite obstacles in the way, and I am happy to mention some without any bias:
- MS Dhoni: There’s no better example than that of sportsman spirit to drive the Value concept in practicality. Culture shapes Values and Values determine the future. A simple boy from the lanes of Jharkhand made it to the Indian Cricket Team based on his talent, determination and hard work. India’s first test cricket with West Indies in June 2006 and as the wicketkeeper-batsman from Ranchi, still trying to make a name for himself, Dhoni proved to be the game-changer. While he exhibited several examples of living by his Values, the focus with which he played and the patience he showed taking his team to victory, will be known for years to come and this includes certain decisions where he knew he was “out” and walked away from the field despite the world thinking otherwise. Today, individuals swear by his ability to not only LIVE by his Values but more importantly take informed decisions despite adverse situations.
- Trevor Noah: When you read his autobiography “Born a Crime“, you see the relentless absurdities of politics, nationalism and race but more importantly, it essays a “relentless pursuit of his Values“. It’s interesting to note how he survived the intersection of culture and history with his Values and his innate ability to view every stressful situation from a satirical perspective. The never die spirit, the craziness of his young life, his mother who always reinforced the “Values” and its importance at home, made him the man he is today – one of the top comedians, writer, political commentator, television host and more. As the current host of The Daily Show, an American satirical news program on Comedy Central, he indeed endorses the belief “Values determine your future“.
- Michelle Obama: She needs no introduction and her famous quote “when they go low, you go high” speaks volumes about the Values ingrained in her as a child by her parents. Her book “Becoming” narrates her journey from that of a young girl to that of USA’s first Black First Lady. But seemingly what remains constant are the set of Values which her mother’s calm and encouraging presence instilled in her – to be herself simply. This not only became her North Star throughout school and college where she was told “You are not Princeton material” but helped her navigate successfully and efficiently. Humble to the core, she has passed on her legacy Values to her daughters and unabashedly shares “I have learned that as long as I hold to my beliefs and Values and follow my moral compass, the only expectations I need to live up are my own“. Having said that she is the Voice of women across the globe who inspires women to be live life on their terms.
In continuation, when you define the Values of an organization, you are creating an emotional connection between the organization and each individual. Values necessarily represent the principles which the company will abide by, no matter what. They inspire employees to perform to their best ability but sometimes may constrain their actions because as they say, innovation is a change that unlocks new value and if you have that defined, then so be it. Having said that, over time, an organization’s ethical character is mirrored through its operations and culture.
– Mahindra Group: Rise and the word itself ignites a sense of passion and commitment within you as an individual. More importantly, when you have 22 individual companies bound by one set of Values, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride. These don’t trickle from the top but are ingrained in every individual’s DNA. Every step one takes, every effort one makes, be it the dignity of an individual, customer-first attitude and professionalism, the sentiment echoes in every experience created. There are several examples of Values exhibited by employees. Still, your organization’s actual test of time is when you visit a third-party outlet, and they are as passionate about the brand as they are about the organization’s Values. I remember visiting Mahindra to pick up my first Scorpio, and even after three years, I remember the unique experience and their level of customer-centricity. For me, that is the real test of your Values, coz it has reached the last mile.
– Tata Group: My conversation will be incomplete if I don’t name the Tata Group. And it is not a surprise that the moment you say Tata you mean Trust. As soon as you log in to their website, the first message that hits you hard is from Ratan Tata. It shakes you positively to your roots: “Business, as I have seen it, places one great demand on you: it needs you to self-impose a framework of ethics, Values, fairness and objectivity on yourself at all times.”. And it makes you think and believe that Values are not mere words here. When they mention Excellence, Responsibility and Integrity, they genuinely mean it. Let me share one last personal example. As a young woman with limited resources, I wanted to buy Tanishq bangles. Having consolidated the “right amount”, I bought them in Delhi and was overjoyed. The exemplary service put me on cloud nine, and I wore them every day. However, two months later, I noticed some issue with the bangle design and reached out to Tanishq. With a clear focus on excellence, they requested me to select the model of my choice and evaluated the gold value for that particular day. It has been several years, and I can assure you that because of “living and practicing their Values”, they got a loyal customer for life. I may be a drop I the ocean but several drops contribute to the ocean at large.
I strongly believe it’s not hard to take decisions when you know what your Values are. Hence my inferences:
- Values are personal, intimate and self -driven.
- Doing what’s right as per Values “when no one is looking” is more important
- Values are integral to an organization and must be defined early on and must be defined based on the principle “employees can practice in true spirit“.
- Values have a direct impact on the business outcome
And if you still have doubts, let me explain with an analogy. In a typical crime scene, the security and forensic team come searching for evidence and collect the fingerprints. Well! Values are those unique fingerprints that set one individual or an organization apart from the other.