Whoever you are and wherever you fit into an organization, core values are the basic guide to how to conduct yourself in your day-to-day activities, and how you work together as a team to improve the quality of your work, your people and yourself. Core values are much more than minimum standards. They inspire us to do our very best at all times. They are a common bond among all people, and are the glue that unifies any group.
The United States military is dedicated to core values to build the foundation of trust and leadership upon which their strength is based and victory is achieved. They are the principles on which each military service was founded, and they continue to guide them today. Service members understand and live by these core values, and have stood ready to protect the nation and its freedom; ready to carry out any mission, to deter any conflict around the globe, and if called upon to fight and be victorious. They are faithful to these core values as their abiding duty and privilege.
The core values I will be discussing are the elements of character that lay the foundation of leadership and followership in any walk of life. They are the valuable traits, virtues and competencies that make great people and successful organizations. As you will see, these core values are intertwined, and are uniquely related to one another. They become the standard for behavior that should never be compromised.
Duty is the legal or moral obligation to accomplish all assigned or implied tasks to the fullest of your ability. Everyone must do what needs to be done without having to be told to do it. Duty requires a willingness to accept full responsibility for your actions and for the performance of your subordinates. It also requires a leader to take the initiative and anticipate requirements based on the situation. Some people think that duty means putting in their time from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. But, duty means accomplishing all assigned tasks to the best of your ability. Leaders, and the teams they lead, must have a deep commitment to duty and what is best for the organization.
To abide by an uncompromising code of integrity, taking full responsibility for your actions and keeping your word; to conduct yourself in the highest ethical manner in all relationships with peers, superiors and subordinates, as well as being honest, truthful and sincere in your dealings with each other, and with those who you do business with. You must be willing to make honest recommendations, and to accept advice and suggestions of junior personnel; encourage new ideas. You are accountable for your professional and personal behavior, and you must fulfill or exceed your responsibilities with honor. You should never give in to pressures that can challenge your ethical reasoning such as self-interest, peer pressure, pressure from subordinates or pressure from superiors. Living with honor, and being honest with oneself is perhaps the best way to live each of the core values.
Have the courage to meet the demands of your profession and the mission when it is challenging, demanding, or otherwise difficult. Make decisions and act in the best interest of your organization, without regard to personal consequences. Meet these challenges while adhering to a higher standard of personal conduct and decency. Courage is the value that gives you the moral and mental strength to do what is right, with confidence and resolution, even in the face of personal or professional temptation or adversity. Expect and encourage candor and integrity of your people. If you believe you are right, after sober consideration, hold your position. Practicing moral courage in your daily lives builds a strong and honorable character.
Dedicate yourself to the professional, personal and spiritual well-being of your people. Be obligated to and strive for positive change and constant improvement. Exhibit the highest degree of moral character, professional excellence, quality and competence in what you have been entrusted to achieve. Be loyal and have a faithful adherence to your people, team, department, unit and/or company. Loyalty is the thread that binds actions together and causes everyone to support each other, your superiors, and your company.
Selfless service is placing your duty before your personal desires. It is the ability to endure hardships and insurmountable odds because of your dedication and loyalty to your fellow employees and your company. Selfless service is a rare virtue in today’s society, and it needs to be instilled throughout the organization through inspired leadership. Organizations who work as a cohesive team become an unbeatable force. The selfless employee and/or leader does not make decisions or take actions designed to promote self, to further a career or to enhance personal comfort.
Integrity is a character trait that means to firmly adhere to a code of moral and ethical principles. It is the willingness to do what is right even when no one is looking. Possessing high personal moral standards and to be honest is the basis for the trust and confidence that must exist within an organization. It is the source for great personal strength and is the foundation for organizational effectiveness. As leaders, all employees are watching and looking to see that you are honest and live by your word. And, no person of integrity tries to shift the blame to others or take credit for the work of others. Most importantly, a person of high integrity has self-respect; as a professional and a human being. They do not behave in ways that would bring discredit upon themself or the organization to which they belong.
Respect is treating others with consideration and honor. It is the ability to accept and value other individuals. Respect begins with a fundamental understanding that all people possess worth as human beings; to show respect toward people without regard to race, religion or gender. It is developed by accepting others and acknowledging their worth to an organization. Therefore, we have to foster respect up and down the chain of command.