Hiring exceptional leaders starts with truly understanding your company’s DNA – your values, purpose, and culture. Get clear on these foundational elements, and you’ll be set up to find leaders who sync with the soul of your organization.
But how do you accomplish this?
That’s what we are going to cover in this article.
Let’s jump in.
First, Define Your Values
Defining your company’s values provides an essential foundation. Your values reflect the core behaviors and principles that guide employee interactions and conduct – they shape the organization at its heart.
- Gather teams across the company to define your values together. This ensures alignment and buy-in.
- Articulate a focused list of 5-8 clear, core values. Keep it simple and specific.
- Revisit your values regularly as you grow. Values naturally evolve as a company changes.
- Reference your values when making decisions and in company meetings. This reinforces them in everyday work.
Getting your values right is crucial, as they inform your purpose and culture. Well-defined values unite teams and serve as guideposts when charting your company’s course. Revisiting them periodically will keep them fresh and adaptable.
Next, Articulate Your Purpose
Articulating a compelling purpose explains why your company exists beyond profits. An inspiring purpose becomes a North Star, motivating employees in hard times and attracting top talent who connect with your mission.
Crafting the right purpose statements is an iterative process. To do this, focus on creating value for society, not just shareholders, and then refine the language by gathering feedback from employees, customers and partners to make it meaningful and authentic.
Keep the following in mind when completing this process:
- Once defined, integrate your purpose into the fabric of the company. Reference it frequently in internal messaging and meetings to make it ever-present, anchoring company strategy and decisions.
- Tell stories showcasing the company living its purpose in action. This makes the purpose tangible and alive for employees.
- Make explaining the company’s purpose a key part of new employee onboarding. This helps them appreciate being part of something larger than just their daily role.
- Use your purpose as a guiding light when making difficult decisions (like layoffs). First, explore creative solutions to the problem before jumping to extremes. Your purpose should guide you to care for your employees, even in hard times.
Then, Understand Your Culture
Understanding your real culture beyond the “ideal culture” is crucial. Because culture reflects the unspoken rules and norms for how work happens day-to-day. And you need your finger on the pulse of reality here…not just what you would like to see in your organization.
Here’s the best way to accomplish this:
- Look at actual behaviors, not just hypothetical values. Conduct an anonymous survey to get insights into real employee experiences.
- Ask questions like:
- If your company disappeared, what would the world miss?
- What three words best describe your culture?
- What’s the one thing you never want to see change?
- Please share examples of values in action.
- What behaviors are recognized and rewarded? How?
- How, and how often, do you receive feedback?
- If you could change one thing about the culture, what would it be?
- How would you describe the leadership style?
- Is risk-taking encouraged, and what happens when people fail?
- Review the survey results to find trends, themes, red flags, etc. These responses can be very eye-opening.
In the end, getting an authentic read on your culture will reveal gaps between “the real and the ideal.” This allows you to shape norms toward your values. An accurate cultural perspective is key for attracting leaders who will align with your company’s DNA.
The Bottom Line
When your company’s DNA is well-defined, your culture stays strong and aligned through ongoing evolution. Articulating your purpose, values and culture provides clarity to guide growth.
This pays dividends in two ways:
- It helps attract and engage leaders who naturally share your organizational genetics. Their passions and priorities will sync with the culture they’re joining.
- It helps identify mismatches. With a clear sense of your DNA, you can avoid bringing in leaders whose mindsets and motivations conflict with your established culture.
Defining your cultural code gives your company a benchmark for alignment when evaluating leaders. Clarity of purpose, values and culture will fuel coherent growth and evolution.