(This post is written for alumni of LEAD365, although all are welcome to read it.)

I recently had a coaching session with the CEO of a West Michigan Company. In preparation for the session, I had accessed the website of the company.  Not surprisingly the website contained the mission, or purpose statement, of the company as well as the three core values that outlined what is most important to them in terms of how they function.

The mission statement was great; it really captured why that company exists. Furthermore, the core values flowed out of that mission statement. This is a company that frequently has customer visitors who walk through the facility. Those customers consistently give positive feedback that fits perfectly into the mission and core values of the company. This company walks their talk and practices what they preach.

But guess what? When I asked this successful CEO what their three core values were, he froze! The look on his face was priceless. He was horrified that I was asking him this question, and even more horrified that he didn’t know the answer. Even when I gave him a hint that they are listed on the home page of his website, he still couldn’t come up with them.

Purpose and values are not written, first of all, so that we can have a good website or a paper filed away somewhere that proves we have them. These things are carefully prepared precisely because we intend to EMBODY them, live them, breathe them, and, yes, articulate them regularly.

All of us who have been through Pilot/LEAD 365 have done some deep consideration of purpose and values, and many of us work with companies that have done a fine job of articulating these things and living them out. Some of us have gone so far as to prepare a vision for our team. However, the story of my CEO client highlights how easy it is to lose sight of these really important things.

My client has a meeting with his top managers each Monday morning. His moment of “freezing” on the values of the company has caused him to make sure that in every weekly meeting their mission and values are reinforced (and evaluated). Regardless of the agenda, he understands that communicating and being reminded of these central things is critically important. 

Fortunately in this case, the purpose and values were still being lived out at the company. But over time, if not communicated, reinforced, and evaluated, these really important things simply become words on a file, slogans on a website, and omissions in daily routines. And trust me, soon they show up in customer visits as well as the bottom line.

What steps will you take in the new year of 2016 to make sure that the purpose and values of your team or organization don’t get watered down, forgotten, or overlooked?

Image by striatic. Used under CC by 2.0 license.