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Never Sacrifice Values for Growth

If your company's values don't inform everything you do--and everything your employees do--you won't be doing it for long.
The SEAL Trident is one of the few warfare specialty pins that is the same for officers and enlisted. It symbolizes that Navy SEAL's are brothers in arms - that they train together and fight together.
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The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required, yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.” -- The Navy SEAL Creed

Loyalty. Integrity. Honor. Perseverance. Humility. Without these guiding values, the Navy SEALs would not exist. Likewise, in business, your principles and values should be so ingrained in your actions that without them, your company would cease to exist.

When we started our first company, my business partner and I were so driven by growing the business that we neglected to establish the core principles that should be the foundation of every company. Years later, when we realized that our foundation was weak, we sat down and really focused on what defined the culture we were trying to establish. Now, every decision we make, every person we hire, and every client we bring on is aligned with these values.

Here are some things you should think about when thinking about your company’s core values:

  1. Be authentic. There is a big difference in putting core values on your website and actually living by them. If you or your team members are willing to let values slide to close a deal, you may need to rethink what your business is all about. Don’t just have core values for the sake of having them. Let them define your culture and guide every decision.
  2. Recruit wisely. If the values are well defined, and you hire accordingly, your employees will be more likely to stick with you for the long haul. When you are recruiting new people, talk to them about the core values and ensure they believe in them as well. Always reference the values with your team. Do this when giving awards and praise, and when providing constructive criticism. You might get an eye roll every now and then, but you will build a stronger team if everyone is familiar with the company’s foundation.
  3. Share with clients. Let them know what you are about. Learn what they are about. If you just want to close the deal and bring on customers that don’t share your values, the relationship won’t last long. Like-minded customers will have a higher propensity to stay with you longer and increase in value to you.
  4. Live the values. It is always astounding how many business owners or managers I talk to don’t know their company’s core values. Many can’t even name one. If a company’s leaders don’t know the values, they certainly aren’t living by them or communicating them to the team. Have core values that truly define the type of culture you want to create. People will be happier, and will work hard to make the business a success.
IMAGE: ndayla/Flickr
Last updated: Mar 7, 2013

BRENT GLEESON

Navy SEAL combat veteran Brent Gleeson is the co-founder and CMO at Internet Marketing Inc., a leading digital marketing agency and an Inc. 500|5000 company for the past three years in a row.




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