Staying True to Your Values

By Susan Schilke; September 1, 2015

What are the core values of your company? What about your personal values? What are the key beliefs that guide your behavior?

TeamStrength members talk often about culture and corporate values, and many have identified the core values of the company to assist in decision-making, strategy and selection. At the TeamStrength Leadership Workshop 2015, Lt. Gen. (retired) Mark Hertling reminded us that leaders need to be clear on their personal core values as well. So I encourage you to give some thought to your personal values and how they come into play in the professional world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my core values lately, and loyalty is definitely one. I am fiercely loyal to family and friends, and professionally loyal to the companies I work with and the leaders in the TeamStrength programs. Loyalty is also a core value in some organizations. It can get confusing to balance personal and professional loyalty. In our personal relationships, loyalty is about being trustworthy, supportive and faithful through thick and thin. Being loyal to a company is about decisions and actions that are consistently in the best interest of the company.

You demonstrate personal and professional loyalty with similar practices – consistent commitment, caring and devotion. And both imply a certain degree of willingness to weather challenging times. But loyalty to a company and to doing what is best for the organization can sometimes feel disloyal to an individual. For instance, what happens if your organization needs to make a change in a supplier due to a better product or service offering, or discounted price? And what if the supplier has been a long, loyal partner to the business, going the extra mile in the past? Worse – what if one of your best friends has performance issues and is passed over for promotion? How do you stay loyal to the supplier or your friend, and honor your loyalty to the organization?

With loyalty as a core value, you want to offer support and stay true to the people you work with – people you genuinely care about – but you also want to be loyal to the company, right? For me, loyalty to the company and doing what’s best for the business becomes the most critical because that’s being loyal to all who depend on the company – the team members and their families, customers, investors and other stakeholders. In these tricky situations, if you want to be loyal to all the best option may be found in another core value prized by many people and companies (and also at the top of my list) – honesty. Being open in these situations may be tough, but if you value loyalty, want to support the right business decisions, and care about the people you’re dealing with, honesty is the best way to be loyal. And it’s also the fairest thing to do.

Give some thought to your personal values and how to consistently stay true to them, and look for more from us on this topic in upcoming months. Because as Mark Hertling also said, it’s who you are that matters most.