Why Core Values are Important

By David Sgro, IEST President-Elect and Lead Qualification Test Engineer, Systems & Technology—Surveillance Group, FLIR Systems, Inc.

What does the phrase “core values” mean to you? Take a moment to think about it and write down a quick list of words or phrases before reading on. (Don’t worry, I’ll wait. 😊)

This is a thorough (albeit long-winded) definition from the U.S. National Park Service:

“The core values of an organization are those values we hold which form the foundation on which we perform work and conduct ourselves. We have an entire universe of values, but some of them are so primary, so important to us that throughout the changes in society, government, politics, and technology they are STILL the core values we will abide by.

In an ever-changing world, core values are constant. Core values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission. The values underlie our work, how we interact with each other, and which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission. The core values are the basic elements of how we go about our work. They are the practices we use (or should be using) every day in everything we do.”

I am thankful to have been selected as a core values ambassador for my company. As part of this opportunity, I took a “train-the-trainer” class in which we went through exercises to work with a partner and identify our own personal core values. We spent time generating a list of core values and defining each one. Seeing a written set of my own personal core values was an “ah-ha” moment. I never had the opportunity to list and define my own personal core values. The values I inscribed were a validation of how I live my life.

Next, we participated in interactive exercises to help us become familiar with the company’s new core values.

This workshop—and subsequent workshops I taught—helped employees at my company understand and respect why we have personal and company core values—and how they contribute to strong personal characters and positive company cultures.

Zappos founder Tony Hsieh says it best: “Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”


What are your personal core values? What are your organization’s core values? Please share by commenting on this blog post.

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