In the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, there were 5 recognizable traits of successful businesses lasting over time that separated themselves as “great” businesses vs “good” businesses. One of those 5 key traits of great businesses was having a set of non-negotiable core values. These core values are a set of rules for the actions and behaviors of its people that allow the organization to pursue and attain success over multiple generations.
There are some things as a person or as an organization in which we should not stray from in terms of our actions and behaviors for us to reach our maximum inner greatness, but unless you commit to a set of core values, one likely won’t move from “good” to “great” given all the chaos created daily or weekly, the decisions to be made, the difficult transitions to navigate from generation to generation, the differences in opinions on direction, and the strategy and tactics evolved over time.
For me, it was 2008 and we continued to add people at AMC, and ultimately I had no clue as to what I was doing, in terms of hiring people, interviewing, leading them, on-boarding, successful check-ins, and managing the chaos. As growers and doers, we are great at stimulating growth, but with that comes chaos, and managing the chaos is often not in our skillset. And there, lies our problem. We don’t know how to lead in chaos, we don’t know how to prevent chaos, and all we want people to do is work hard just like us and “get it done”. But as more people get involved, just asking people to “get it done” doesn’t work.
So as I was figuring that out, my studies were leading me towards recognizing the chaos, and recognizing I had to get better and learn how to lead more people. And it was in this time frame that I read the book “Good to Great” that outlined what is now my thoughts and vision for use of a set of non-negotiable core values. Along with a healthy dose of following Bill Snyder and following his 16 Rules For Success.
So in April of 2009, I was driving down I-80 in Nebraska, and I began to jot down the beginnings of our AMC Core Values. Fast forward to today, and we have redone them, redesigned them, and continually keep them in our headlights. They are non-negotiable for everyone, and we live by them. And if someone can’t live by them, they must “go”. Which I have had to teach, is “ok”, because if someone doesn’t agree with your non-negotiable core values, they won’t be comfortable in your system, they won’t like being in that culture. And that is ok. They need to find a culture and a business that their core values more align with theirs.
But at the end of the day, our core values are our guiding principles. We use them to make decisions. We use them to make decisions we disagree on. We use them as our rules of the road for our actions and behaviors. We use them to decide our strategy, tactics, logistics, and how we move our organization forward. And at any “crossroads”, we get our core values out, look at them, review them, and use them to solve our problems. It is that simple.
The point of this blog isn’t so much our story, but the point of this blog is our nation needs some strong looks at our core values. I would guess those core values are our constitution, it’s amendments, and “In God We Trust”. For many of us, we may not have written down core values, but we all hold convictions within our hearts and souls that we “stand on” no matter the hellish situations or the pain. For many of us, we may have strayed from those parental established core values, but we didn’t stray too far and we came back to them with some experience, pain, and wisdom. For many, the book of Proverbs serves as a massive list of core values, and in it is the verse, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
We have many people departing from it, and we pray the come back to it. For you, what are your core values? For leaders, what are your organization’s core values? Are they non-negotiable? Are you and your people living by them? Living by a set of core values allows unforeseen successes and summitting of the greatest mountaintops of achievement! But one must be willing to make them non-negotiable and not waver from them. There may be periodic moments of straying, but one must come back to them quickly, intentionally, diligently, and humbly. One must submit themselves for the greater good of one’s greatest potential!! Stand by those convictions!!