By Amanda Ronan
Do you know the story of the brand Patagonia? Yvon Chouinard began the company out of a need for better quality and reusable mountain climbing equipment. When he branched out into clothing, he knew he wanted to use sustainable materials that lasted a long time. He did not want his clothes to end up in landfills. Today, the company will repair any piece of clothing you have, even non-Patagonia pieces. When you are done with a Patagonia item, they will help you sell it to someone else. They actively ask their customers, “Do you really need this item?” because they want to reduce waste and protect the environment.
If that is not enough, when the surfs up outside of their Ventura, California offices, they ask their employees to take a break and go surfing. They value the power of nature on creativity and mental health.
And, despite being the sole owner of the multi-million-dollar brand, Chouinard takes five months off every year to go fishing. He trusts his employees and hires people who love their jobs.
Putting all of this in place has not been difficult. Chouinard simply created a business that stuck very closely to his values of environmentalist and individualism.
How to Walk the Talk
- Leaders must live it.
If you are going to expect employees to act a certain way and do business with certain values in mind, they must be displayed from the top down. Patagonia is successful because Chouinard never strayed from his personal belief system. And when he did, he instantly knew it and course corrected.
- Training must happen.
You ca not just hand your employees a sheet with a list of values. There must be training in what these values are, what they look like and feel like. Employees must identify what will happen when they are working in alignment with the values.
- Programs and communications must reflect values.
If you have a value of sustainability and programs, like say, weekly lunches from fast food places that deliver in styrofoam containers and plastic bags, you are not in alignment. Your perks, programs and communications must show that the values you chose for the company actually guide your decisions.
- Alignment must be assessed.
When something is assessed, it is addressed. Set up ways to test whether you are really acting in accordance with your values. Ask your customers. Hire consultants. Listen to your employees. Get feedback about how aligned your vision and practices are. Even if you get positive results, keeping assessing so you do not slip into contrary practices.
- New hires must be tested.
When you interview people, include a values-based assessment. Find out if the person fits the culture of your values. If they do, hire them! If they do not, pass. Recognize the people in your business who live the values. Share their stories with the company. Conversely, train people who are struggling with the values. If they do not get up to speed, part ways. Staying aligned to your values only works if you have 100% buy in.
When you run your business in accordance with your values, you will know when you are on the right track. It will feel right. And not only that, but you will feel comfortable as a leader. You will not make questionable decisions that you ca not support to your employees, because your values will guide the way. If you are not sure you are leadership or management skills are at this level, yet, consider pursuing an MBA in with an Emphasis in Leadership at Grand Canyon University. You will discover skills you never knew you had and grow the confidence to make your personal values the bedrocks of your business.
To learn more about how Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business provides leaders with guidance toward building a values-based business, visit our website or click the Request More Information Button on this page.
More About Amanda:
Amanda Ronan is a writer and editor focused on education. She was a classroom teacher for nearly a decade. Now she spends her time writing for students, teachers and parents. Amanda also writes curriculum for entrepreneurial learning and financial literacy programs. Amanda lives in Austin where she enjoys splashing in creeks with her husband and two dogs, swaying in a hammock on the porch and sampling all the breakfast tacos the city has to offer.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.