The fences around the family property separate the cattle in the pasture and keep Cocoa, the horse, in the field. As a child, I see dad give time and care to building and maintaining these fences.
Strong fences require sturdy corner posts.
Likewise, solid core values support clear boundaries, both personally and professionally.
What are your four corner post values?
When you know your values, they serve as guide lenses through which you may look at everything you think, say, or do. They determine who you are and how you wish to show up in the world. These values also clarify expectations for behavior involving all interactions, whether internally or externally, for your business or organization.
When I work with organizations experiencing conflict, often folks cite lack of clarity as an issue. This may be around rules or expectations, including who they apply to and when they apply. Folks experience frustration when rules seemingly apply inconsistently to some people some of the time, rather than all people all the time.
This lack of clarity often stems from uncertainty and inconsistency surrounding organizational values. Ideally, values help establish rules, roles, or expectations. When team members do not see an organization following its own values, the fence begins to fall. This impacts morale, productivity, relationships, and the bottom line.
Knowing your values and applying them consistently matters. If compassion reflects a core cornerstone value, everyone within and outside of the organization receives compassion. While it may seem easier to offer compassion to someone you know or like, values do not depend on the condition of the person or people involved. It also includes showing compassion for both you and everyone around you in all places and spaces. You may also set any boundaries or parameters through a lens of compassion.
Sometimes values may seem at odds. For example, you may want clear rules and expectations and wish to demonstrate compassion. You may hold space for both. When it appears that someone is not following a rule or expectation, you may open the gate in your fence and invite dialogue. To better understand, you may ask what help or support may be needed in meeting the expectation. You may also get curious and ask what ideas someone may have about upholding the underlying values. Finally, you may again clarify expectations going forward and the consequences for not meeting them.
If someone does not meet expectations, it does not make them bad. This opens an opportunity to determine if they are in the right role, or if they are a good fit for the organization. When you hold fast to your core values, it also helps you to determine if you are in the right role, or if an organization is a good fit for you.
Of course, you must keep an eye on your fence corner posts. When they start to seem a little wobbly, it helps to address them as soon as possible. If you wait until the fence falls, it may take much more time, energy, money, and other resources to repair.
Clear corner post values support sturdy fences. They also help set clear value-based boundaries.
Framing fences establishes parameters for you and the people around you. This allows you to focus your time and energy on your mission and vision.
What are your corner post values?
What impact do these have on what you think, say, or do?
What steps do you take to maintain these values?