Through years of collecting evidence that culture matters, we know that culture will either help or hurt an organization.

A key aspect of leading the culture toward the leadership’s intention is crafting unique and powerful values that are illuminated through specific behaviors. Uber provides us with an example of getting it wrong – toe stepping. This was one of their initial values that both served a purpose and got them in trouble. It was one of the values that the new CEO, Dara Khosrowshah, dropped after a short while in his new role.


Since each culture is unique, values for each organization need to reflect that distinctiveness. What works for a Silicon Valley startup cannot work for an academic institution. Here are the values for Stanford Business School:

    • Engage intellectually
    • Strive for something great
    • Respect others
    • Act with integrity
    • Own your actions

It is easy to see how they easily tie into what makes Stanford Business School successful. With a new startup, however, engage intellectually will not likely describe a key element of success.

Fully Integrate Values Into The Company

Values must be fully integrated into the company for them to be meaningful, not just written on a poster or placed on the wall. During a visit to Lyft, I was able to quickly see their values come to life. While I was waiting for my contact in the reception area, I asked the receptionist what it was like working at Lyft. She said that what she likes most about working at Lyft was that she could be herself. The receptionist had not experienced this at any other job, and she loved being able to be authentic at work. Organizations know they have fully integrated values when the values exist in the fabric and feel of the company.

No More Than Five Values

I remember a conversation with a potential client regarding their values. I felt like there was a sense of pride in that they crafted values. So I asked them what they were and then I heard typing in the background. They were looking up the values to share with me. I was less interested in the naming of the values and more interested if they knew what they were.

This is more common than not. Most of us do not remember more than five ideas. If you have more than five values, reduce them to the most critical. If people do not know what they are, revise them or start over. Ask ten employees to name the values and if they staff cannot, you have great data that values are not driving the culture.

Examples Of Interesting And Unique Values

Conscious Culture Group® works with organizations to help them identify their uniqueness and express it through their chosen values and behaviors.

Let me know what you think! Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].