The Values Game

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Today we have a quiz: identify the company from the values they proclaim in their annual report:

Candidate One: “Leadership, Integrity, Trust, Ownership, Passion for Winning”.

Candidate Two: “Dialogue, Transparency, Respect, Sharing, Benefits”

Candidate Three: “Be courageous, show passion, stay curious, teamwork works, give back, stay true.”

Candidate Four: “We put customers first. We are professional. We respect each other. We work as one team. We are committed to continuous improvement.”

Candidate Five: “We aspire to the highest standards of moral and ethical conduct” This was one of many values from candidate five that are too long to reprint here.

Four of these are American, one is British. They come from Telecommunications, banking, chemicals and biotech, fast moving consumer goods and automotive.

Put positively, there seem to be a fairly universal set of values to which leading employers aspire. Put negatively, the values seem to be a random set of worthy words designed to dress up the annual report. One of the candidates claims that it will “respect the religious, cultural and ethical concerns of people throughout the world”. This sounds more like the mandate of the United Nations than a humble company.

As leaders, our challenge is not to draft something to be inscribed on a thousand brass plaques. Brass plaques do not change values: how we behave, how we measure, reward, recognise staff and how we deal with customers and suppliers sets the tone for our organisation’s values.

There is a sting in the tail of this quiz. Some of the values statements have changed since this article was drafted. Values, like puppies, should not just be for Christmas. They need to last to have an impact, rather than change as frequently as the CEO carousel.

For the curious, the quiz answers are: 1: Procter and Gamble, 2: Ford, 3: Monsanto, 4: BT and 5: Citigroup

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