Well, at least that is what some managers would like to believe. In fact, there are a large number of different international companies whose foresighted top management has understood that values-based leadership and an encouraging, supportive company culture are actually highly beneficial for business in the long run.
Let’s take three examples from very different industries – that all have in common high cost-saving pressure and rising competition: Unilever, Zappos and Nordstrom. All three very successful, all growing solidly and being successful despite turbulence in markets and other potentially hazardous conditions.
Unilever: The four core values of this company are integrity, responsibility, respect and pioneering. And Paul Polman, CEO until the end of 2018, ensured that these values actually guided the choices made in most instances by managers and staff alike. Even the “mistake” that contributed to his resignation after 10 years at the helm of the organization had to do with sustainability: trying to move the corporate headquarters from the shared site between the UK and the Netherlands, to a simple location in Rotterdam. The rationale was to reduce the risk of a hostile take-over from Kraft Heinz or others with vastly different corporate cultures and try to preserve the very special and forward-looking company culture.
Zappos: This company has 10 core values:
1. “Deliver WOW Through Service,
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More with Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble
Nordstrom: the core values are trust, respect, loyalty, awareness, humility, communication and collaboration. With those values as the foundation, Nordstrom creates a culture of innovation and adaptation in order to stay relevant.
So, the next time someone suggests that there is an inconsistency between the values published in your company and those that its staff and customers experience, you may wish to consider applying the lessons of these three companies – for your own long-term success!!