Creating Team DNA: The Necessity of Core Values

Beacons and trail markers are a traveler’s best friend. Leader’s lean into these as life lines for clear direction and vision. Whether it is ship captains entering nighttime harbors, sherpas guiding large groups up Everest or 747 pilots landing massive planes on runways, the principle remains truer than ever that clearly defined pathways are mission critical. These necessary compasses promise clear orientation to groups and their leaders who crave safe arrivals at their desired destinations.

Clearly articulated core values for team’s function in the exact same way.

They are just as important and just as needed. Core values are the invisible markers influencing and guiding the process of how we as teams accomplish our shared goals together. Finish lines and final arrivals are important, but love demands us to remember that the process of getting there is just as important. A team’s understanding of how they’re moving forward is just as important as the movement itself.

Core Values help describe the ways in which teams live and perform together while also describing their culture, identity, and DNA.

Here’s three reasons why: 

1. Core Values Create Laser Focus 

Time is a resource. Energy is a resource. Focus is a resource. Good leaders learn to steward resources like these with aggressive passion. In a world saturated with noise, distractions, and constant temptations for a team to forget their true vision is always crouching at the door. Core values have a way of drawing us back to the mirror to remember who we are and the mission we are on. They give us a bearing and an anchor when storms arrive, and our team seems susceptible to internal or external dangers.

This invisible marker (core values) encourages, grows, and challenges us to be our best even when the journey becomes hard. Few things are more exhilarating to watch than a person or team remaining committed and devoted to their value systems even when they share sufferings, resistance, or internal struggles.

Core Values act as a team’s compass in keep them moving forward not only in the right direction but at the right pace with the right rhythms. For example, a team might embrace a core value like “excellence matters.” If this core value existed in the bones of this team then one could always trust that no matter how large or small the task is, it will be accomplished with intense care and precision.

This team’s way of working would be noticeably effective to anyone watching because the value they uphold is focused. And… excellence does matter. 

2. Core Values Create Clear Accountability and Expectations 

Truly loving people well is one of the hardest things in the entire world to accomplish. In this endeavor, discomfort, tension, and conflicts are sure to test our commitments to those whom we’ve chosen to love. Thankfully, core values intrinsically produce parameters and boundaries inside of our communities and teams that help keep us abiding by the ways of living that we collectively agreed upon from the start.

Don’t be mistaken though, this is only true to the extent in which we are willing to be uphold the values that we together created in the first place. Core Values that take up space on fancy company walls but that never dwell in the hearts of its people are not core values at all. Values that are created but never embraced are quickly forgotten. Core values operate like consistent treadmills that keep us in shape especially when apathy or laziness draws near.

These same core values on the other hand also help us to recognize and embrace our failures and offenses when we inevitably commit them. For example, if it becomes noticeable that a team member, is not embracing the clear value of “excellence matters”, a loving conversation is able to be had in order to get back on track. True love demands accountability and core values help create the culture every healthy team needs. 

3. Core Values Create Meaningful Language 

Words are powerful and have the potential to create inspiring realities and innovative ideas on the wide-open canvas of our futures. Words act as the building blocks for our dreams, imaginative minds, and hopeful aspirations. JI Packer, a famous author and theologian, once said that, “language reveal minds, evokes moods, stirs thoughts, and conveys meaning.

Language can powerfully capture and communicate our deepest convictions, values, and beliefs in incredibly compelling and magnetic ways that energize everyone involved. And if this is true, then why wouldn’t we as teams and groups purposefully pursue leveraging language in order to describe the desired vision, culture, and goals of our team.

If teams can reach this point, their own core values will become to them a shared sentiment and a treasured friend creating a natural chemistry that makes them a strong team. Each country has their own language, each tribe has their own dialect, and each healthy team must have their own meaningful language.