core values
When you share your core values your tribe will help you.

When I started my music distribution company, Mordam Records, I began to hire people within a year. The first guy I hired was Martin. I had just put out my first record on my record label and I didn’t have time to pay much attention to him because distribution was keeping me pretty busy. Martin was hired to help promote the record label while I was busy with other sales. He had to make flyers, send out promotional mailings, and make phone calls to radio stations. When he quit after a very short time, I was devastated. He said he just didn’t like the work. I wondered why, but Martin was sticking to his story. Next, I hired Tommy. Now we were really busy with everything and I hired him to help with everything. It was just the two of us. I did all of the sales and collections. I ordered from the record labels and called customers. Tommy talked with manufacturers and handled most of the shipping and receiving. On busy days we worked side by side. The company was growing. We were getting busier and busier.

One day, out of the seeming blue, Tommy quit. Again, I was devastated. How could you work so closely with someone and have no indication that anything was wrong? Why did he quit?

I called him and he wouldn’t answer his phone. I went to his house to beg him to come back. I needed him and I couldn’t get the work done without him. That was when I had my first reality check. You already know that I have a disdain for jobs that don’t show respect and fairness. But somehow I wasn’t living up to my own core values.

He told me that though I thought we were working side by side as a team, he thought I was a heinous B**%*. Where I thought we were efficient, he thought I was a bossy A*&^*^E. Where I thought we were creating something fair and equitable, he thought I was blind to reality. Dang! Truth stings.

That is when my actions took a strategic turn. I declared my values. It was time to learn how to be a better listener and create opportunities for honesty. That is when being fair meant creating compensation systems where employees had opportunities to make more money. That was when cooperation meant new ways of dividing the organization horizontally. Running a business without thinking of communication systems is impossible.

Tommy came back. We started to hire more people. And all of the company systems started to be created with core values in mind. In that time, independence was a shared value. But my underlying personal values of fairness, honesty and transparency became important for me to share and implement. Tommy was now committed to helping me strategically create the systems that would support the transparency that I sought.

When someone knows your core values, they help you stay true to yourself. But another very important thing happens. You get the opportunity to be more yourself.

Have you ever been in a relationship or team where you feel like you can’t be who you are? Yuck! Have you ever been in a relationship or on a team that makes you feel great because you get to be more yourself than you knew you could ever be? Take that one step further. Have you ever been in a relationship or on a team where they see more of your potential than you do and help you achieve that potential? Now that is an AMAZING experience.

Ten years after Tommy quit and restarted, I had the opportunity to stand in front of 100 people at our own conference. We had had a $10 million year, but I decided to talk about our core values.  At that time I didn’t know exactly what those ideas were called. But my core values of independence, fairness and honestly resonated so deeply that you could feel a pin drop in that room.

I trusted Tommy to help me see my potential even when it hurt. Sharing your core values creates relationships where amazing things happen: You help others reach their potential and they help you reach yours.

Next I’m going to discuss the value of creating shared group core values.

Sharing your core values alters how others listen to you as a leader.

Dave Logan, Tribal Leadership


Ruth Schwartz

Ruth Schwartz is the author of "The Key to the Golden Handcuffs". She is a high performance business consultant and leadership coach. Connect with Ruth to participate in the conversation. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube .