If you have kids, you know there is no clear recipe for success in parenting. Like most parents, my wife and I are always looking for the best strategies for raising Oliver and none of them seem to work as easily as they’re described. During a recent stretch of failed discipline tactics, I reflected on how my parents used to handle things.
The key to their parenting approach was one simple phrase: cultivate core values. Thinking back, I’m struck by how many times my parents emphasized the importance of developing my core values and that my actions and behavior were secondary. Their reasoning was that our values influence our decisions, so having strong values would enable good decision-making. As is often the case, the simple, straightforward strategies are often the most effective.
The idea of cultivating core values isn’t just applicable to parenting though—it’s a strategy for success that’s long been known by leaders of all types. In his popular 2009 TED talk, author and leadership expert, Simon Sinek, makes a compelling case that, above all else, core values drive organizational success:
Every single organization on the planet knows what they do—100%. Some know how they do it. But very few organizations know why they do what they do. By “why” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning?…Inspired organizations, regardless of their size, regardless of their industry, are driven by the why of their work, not the what or how.
Tellingly, an entire industry around value-based leadership has emerged, aimed at supporting organizations and leaders in developing their core values. And, academic literature dating back several decades points to the promise of incorporating values as a core aspect of organizational strategy. With that in mind, as CCMU’s new Executive Director, I’m keenly interested in strengthening and protecting our mission and values.
As I’ve settled into my new role over the past few weeks, it’s become abundantly clear that we’ve always deeply understood why we exist and why we do the work that we do. From our founders to our current staff, every member of our team has a deep commitment to our mission and a fundamental belief that all Coloradans should have the opportunity to live healthy lives and have access to the care they need when they need it.
Although we have a relatively new strategic plan, a change in leadership, new faces joining our staff and others leaving for new opportunities, the ‘why’ of our work continues to drive every decision we make. I’m honored to be leading such a storied and principled organization and look forward to cultivating these values in the years to come. Now I just need to figure out how to explain this concept to my three-year-old!