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I believe wholeheartedly in values. I respect them as one of the core components of an organization’s brand (ideology, values1) so much that they served as the basis of 8 years of consulting work at Brand Mother.

Here’s the thing about values. You spend a tremendous amount of effort to identify which ones matter most.  You dig deep to identify the most import 3 or 4 for your team. You put them out in front of everyone to use and follow. And then… they become place holders, icons on paper, open to each staff member and stakeholder’s interpretation. Don’t misunderstand, you need them. In tough moments, they are the touchstone for your hardest decisions, your largest challenges, and the foundation for growth and success.

But in the day-to-day human interaction of running a company, some down-to-earth rules can really set the tone for how a leader should operate and how she expects her team to act. In growing a company more than 300% in less than 3 years, and onto the INC. 5000, I lived a set of rules that I had learned organically. It wasn’t until today that I found them written down by Kyle Slager, CEO of San Diego-based Raken and collated by Marcel Schwantes for Inc magazine2.

  • Be Yourself: You are unique–bring that every day.
  • Assume Positive Intent: Everyone here wants the best for the team and that’s where they’re coming from.
  • Do What You Say and Say What You Do: Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to results.
  • Be on Time: Everyone’s time is equally valuable.
  • Display Bias for Action: Break a plan down into a small step you can do right away.
  • Act With a Sense of Urgency: Without it, desire loses value.
  • No HIPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) Allowed: Everyone’s opinion is equally valued.
  • No Brilliant Jerks: Play well with others or go home.
  • Treat Others With Respect: Zero tolerance for gossip.
  • Have Fun: Celebrate all wins big and small.
  • You Get What You Give: And you can only give what you have, so take care of yourself and make sure your tank is always full.

People are the first order of business for the best leaders. Help your teams achieve the outcomes you envision by creating a culture that reflects how people should operate.


1 Building Your Company’s Vision, Jim Collins, Jerry Porras, Harvard Business Review Sept/Oct 1996

2 How Do You Know Someone Has True Leadership Qualities? In the End, It Really Boils Down to 1 Word, Marcel Schwantes, INC Sept 2018  https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/how-do-you-know-someone-has-true-leadership-qualities-in-end-it-really-boils-down-to-1-word.html