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Values Define What is Essential

Fork in Cake
Chocolate cake” by dichohecho licensed under CC By 2.0

Who has your DNA?  The excerpt below from Leadership Forum explains how values define who belongs – who shares our DNA.

Values are the DNA of a person, family and team.  Much like team colors, our values tell what is essential to us and reveals to others what is essential.  Values define who belongs—who has our DNA.  Values are often times the unspoken force in a team, family or company.  Someone who is new to the team, family or company will quickly learn what we do and don’t do around her.  Values that are unstated are often confusing and alienating for those who are new to the family, team or organization.

My wife’s family had the habit of eating off of one another’s plates.  They value sharing.  I’m the youngest of four and if you touch my plate you might get a fork in your arm!  I had to learn the hard way not to fight for my food the first time I had a family meal with my wife’s side of the family.  My desire to belong, to be a part of the family challenged me to evaluate my values and embrace a new set of values.  In a company setting someone who persists in not sharing the values of the company is soon no longer with the company.  Values determine who belongs.

Have you ever been in a situation where you discovered a company’s, family’s or team’s unstated values?  How did it feel?

Why is it important to clearly state your values?