(And How To Make Them Stick)

For a lot of business leaders, identifying core values is just as exciting as a filing for a tax return. For others, it’s the pillar that they build their business on, leading by example and paving the way for employees to do the same. But where to start? We have devised 4 simple steps to build your core values.

Identifying and living by your core values is a lot easier said than done, and it’s unsurprisingly common that lots of businesses (after spending hours on core-value building exercises) fail to actually make them a meaningful part of the company culture.

For businesses that run on EOS®, core values are a huge part of everything they do—from business decisions and strategy to initiatives and team building. Everyone’s crystal clear on the company’s EOS® Core Values and leadership teams can explain it coherently.

4 simple steps to build your company’s core values

1. Identify your personal values 

Before you start brainstorming ideas for your company’s core values, you need to look inward. 

Whether you’re running a small boutique business or a six-figure enterprise, the first step is to define your own core values. 

Brainstorm around 10 personal values that are important to you and that you live by, and add a couple of notes under each one. You don’t need to write full sentences here, the goal is to narrow your values down as succinctly and clearly as possible.

Tip: When you’re jotting these down, don’t worry if some of them sound silly. Whether your core values are as lofty as “Integrity & Honesty” or something more day-to-day and relatable like “Don’t mess your colleagues around”, just get them all down and you can clean it up later.

Once you have a list of 10, cross out the least important ones. It doesn’t mean they’re not good values, but you want to get down to three-five that will really define you and your business.

2. Have leadership team brainstorm personal values

Once you’ve narrowed down your personal values, ask your leadership team to do the same. 

Once everyone has created their own personal core values, combine them and work as a team to create the final 3-5 values that will define the company.

Some of the values might be the same (and that’s fine) and you won’t need to worry about small differences unless you have extremely conflicting core personal values.

Find the gaps, observe where everyone’s personal values overlap and move forward with the final 3-5 that everyone is on board with, and can drive into the company culture.

3. Give yourself a gut check

You’ve got your 3-5 core values, and you’re excited to roll it out to the rest of the team. But before you do that, it’s time for a quick gut check.

There are 3 big questions leadership teams need to ask themselves.

Is this who we are?

Is this who we want to be?

Is this who we want to be seen as?

In a perfect world, you’ll be shouting ‘YES!’ to all three. But if you’re struggling, here’s a good rule of thumb:

If one of your core values isn’t quite who you are now (individually or as a business) but who you want to be, that’s fine. You’re aspiring to be better and that’s great! Just make sure it’s realistic and not ‘permission to play’ values.

But if all your core values are aspirational, you might be playing yourself. Be honest with yourself and balance it out.

If your core values are how you want to be seen, but are in no way who you are, you’ve got a problem. Businesses that insist on being a ‘fun-loving’ team but rarely have team social events or any other fun initiatives, are in no way living out that value.

Same goes for companies who insist on ‘Diversity’ but have no real interest in the topic, nor have they made any actionable strides to ensure diversity within their teams.

If you notice your core values are heavy on ‘how we want to be seen’, start from scratch and get honest with yourself and your team.

4. Commit to your core values

It’s time to announce your core values and think about how to implement and commit to them. 

Take a day or two to think them over and make sure you’re 100% confident that you’ve chosen values that are most meaningful to you and your business. 

Once you’re ready, it’s time to:

  • Announce your core values to the whole company. Don’t put it in an email, make an event of it and call a company-wide meeting where you can go into detail, share your enthusiasm and set the tone for the company.
  • Promote and hire talent who fit your core values
  • Create external relationships with partners and companies that fit your core values 
  • Periodically, evaluate teams based on adherence to core values

Creating powerful core values and making them stick

An honest set of core values will guide your business through the toughest of times and the most difficult decisions. 

And the most difficult part is building them out and making sure they resonate with everyone in your leadership team. Once you’ve done that, and you have a set of core values that deeply represent you, your team and your business, living them out day by day will become an embedded part of your company culture.

If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, I can help. Schedule a free consultation call with me and find out how you can get your teams working more functionally and healthily. 


  • Download a FREE copy of Decide! by Gino Wickman and learn how to make faster, better business decisions

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