Byron's Babbles

Living By Core Values

 This week’s A Year with Peter Drucker (Maciariello, 2014) lesson deals with an area, core values, that I have really come to understand more fully in the last few years. I believe me admitting this really explains where most organizations and individuals are on this. We talk core values. We spend time developing core values. We post core values on the wall. We can say we have core values. BUT, do we live our own core values? BUT, does our organization live its core values? BUT, do our personal core values and the organization’s core values match? BUT, is our organizational strategy driven by our core values? In education we say “student’s first” is a core value. The power of core values is living and making decisions by them, not developing them. We must live this and make decisions based on it. I am proud that we have organically begun to build this into our culture at the school I am currently a part of turning around. It brings me great pride when in meetings, our staff will say, “Ok, what is the best thing to do for the student(s).” And, really mean it! The only way for this to truly become embedded is for all to use core values as the “mirror” (Maciariello, 2014) test for all decisions.

“You become a person by knowing what your values are, what you contribute, and it is outside yourself.”         ~ Peter Drucker

Let’s face it, values without the corresponding behaviors are meaningless. Authentic leaders bring organizational core values to life. I told you we were building a culture of using our core values. Here are a few ways we have done this:

  • Using our core values to guide us while we execute strategy, achieve goals, and reward results.
  • Asking what behaviors express our values.
  • Asking what are we doing that undermines or conflicts with our values.
  • Tell stories of how values are expressed in daily decisions.
  • Evaluate daily behaviors with values statements.
  • Define how living by values enables your organization to execute strategy and achieve goals.

Interestingly, as I am writing this I had one of our principals just come in and aske me a question about an end of the semester procedure that affected students who might be coming to us or going to another school next semester. The principal actually said, “We think we should do… Because it meets the test of doing what is best for the students. It is more work for the teachers, but it is best all day long for our students.” My response: “Make it so.” 

 I am excited to be working in an environment where I can exemplify my personal and organizational goals. I don’t think I have ever been anywhere where my own core values and organization’s core values like they match up in my current situation. To work in an organization that has a value system that is incompatible with your own core values forces you to compromise and a loss of self esteem. In my own case I can pass the “mirror test.” What I do fits well within my value system. The contribution I am striving to make is something I want to devote my life to and something I want to be remembered for. Drucker (2014) taught us if we cannot pass the “mirror test” we must do something about it. Do you pass the “mirror test?” Does your organization’s strategy in action match its own core values; and yours?


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.


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