The provocative headline is a slightly altered quote from Mr. TED Talk, Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.
Effective leaders know that success depends upon not just a vision or product, but the employees who carry out the vision and build the product day in and day out. That’s why the most successful companies foster cultures that allow their employees to thrive and grow.
A recent PrintWeek online posting supports the premise in an article titled, “Strengthen your bonds with staff and customers.” Writer Rob Gray states: “Businesses exist to make money. But in order for a company to turn a profit, its employees must be clear as to what is being asked of them, and motivated to work in the right way to achieve those objectives.”
To make that happen, Gray adds: “One of the most effective ways of strengthening the bond employees have with the organization and helping them feel positive about what they do is to instill a common purpose by developing and promoting a set of leadership values. The values you choose should be good for both the commercial performance of your business and the happiness and wellbeing of your employees.”
As a world leader in visual and graphics communications, Alliance Franchise Brands has established a set of Core Values and Focus that represent “what we stand for, how we operate, and what we look for in team members, vendors, and franchise members.” The values lead with an overarching focus—Members First—that links stakeholders across the more than 600 locations in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Gray advises that core values should express the character of an organization and reflect the attitudes, aspirations and behavior of the people running it. Given that, the people running Alliance Franchise Brands can best be described as: ethical, trustworthy, can-do, results driven, respecting of others, with a passion for being great which is the mission-driven culture they have created and nurtured for the company.
The article concludes with a practical process to bring values to your business. In short: 1) creating a set of leadership values; 2) communicating your values; 3) making the most of your commitment; and, 4) dealing with breaches.
Under “communicating your values,” Gray cautions: “Do not communicate your values once and then turn off the tap. They should be communicated on an ongoing basis so that they become hardwired into the business rather than forgotten about. Team meetings and group discussions are an excellent forum for reinforcing values.”
Kevin Cushing, president, Marketing & Print Division of Alliance Franchise Brands, in a blog post on PrintingImpressions speaks to a method of communicating values that he started early in his career titled, “Communication is a Key Ingredient to Your Company Culture.”
“I regularly meet with several team members at a time, over a brown bag lunch, in one of our conference rooms. The group’s makeup varies and is typically people from different parts of the organization who may work together frequently or not,” says Kevin. “I walk out of these lunches feeling great about our team, happy to have learned more about their childhoods, travel, families, previous jobs, hobbies—all the things that make us who we are. I also get a lot of great feedback and ideas about our work. Many of the suggestions, often about building culture, we can put into practice right away. I highly recommend this type of thing. When everyone has the freedom to use their voices, it’s amazing how much you hear—face to face—when you listen.”
Creating a culture of happy, empowered, curious and mission-driven people is critical to the success of any organization. And in the end, as David Cummings, co-founder of Pardot says: “Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur.”