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  • Roz Thornton

How can leaders answer the question ‘Who are we?’ and why does it matter?



Answering the question: ‘Who are we?’ is the second step towards aligning the leadership team around an organisation’s purpose, values and strategy (after ‘Why do we exist?’). To get to the heart of the question, leadership teams must identify their organisation’s core values as an expression of ‘who we are’ and as guiding principles for behaviour.


In his book, ‘The Advantage’, Patrick Lencioni talks about the importance of values in creating clarity and he explains that values are essential for defining an organisation’s personality. They provide employees with clarity about how to behave, reducing the need for micro-management. Furthermore, when an organisation identifies its values and adheres to them, it will attract the right employees while deterring those who are not the right fit.


To help pinpoint their organisation’s core values, leaders should identify who are the truly great people within their organisation and agree what values they express through their behaviour. It might also help to think about those people who are not serving the organisation so well and what values might be driving their less desirable behaviour.


Once the leadership team has identified the organisation’s core values, they must make them explicit and communicate them regularly so there is no ambiguity around the behaviours necessary for the organisation to achieve its goals. Marissa Levin, Founder and CEO of Successful Culture, says: “Values lose their credibility when leadership talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk…Leaders can avoid this outcome by remaining committed and intentional to building a values-centric culture.”


Providing a thorough explanation of how the organisation’s values originated and why they are important, and reinforcing them in all company communications, will help to embed them. As will recognising and rewarding values-oriented behaviours and incorporating the company values into your hiring and performance review processes.


If you would like to learn more about our work helping leadership teams to become aligned around your organisation’s purpose, values and strategy, email us or call 07768 770987.

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