Core Behaviors: Walking the Talk

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On October 6, 2014

CoreBehaviorsA lot of businesses talk about their core values. These are the principles that drive their companies. These are the things that shape their mission, vision, strategy, and how they spend their time, energy, and money.

I think core values are a good thing—but they only go so far. Giving intellectual assent to a value is wonderful, but unless it’s lived out, it’s powerless. Let’s take it to a very personal level. I can believe that treating others with respect is a great value. But if I treat employees (or others around me) like dirt—what good is that “value” I hold in such high regard?

That’s why it’s so important to match great core values with core behaviors. It’s “walking the talk.” What are the core behaviors that need to be present—and observable—in your company if you’re going to live out your company’s core values? Every company is different, and your company’s core values should drive the core behaviors you expect from employees. But to get you thinking, I’d like to share some of what I consider to be core behaviors for myself and for my business.

Behavior Trait What It Means What It Looks Like (Example)
Self-Driven I motivate and push myself—instead of waiting for someone else to take initiative If I’m in sales (and sales are down), I don’t wait for the sales manager to tell me what to do. I look for new opportunities and avenues. I may ask for help (I’m not a “lone wolf” but I take the initiative to change the situation.
Clear Communication I take steps to make sure I present information and facts accurately and clearly. I don’t make assumptions about what others know. I ask questions to make sure people really “got” what I said. I avoid jargon and insider speak that may sound impressive—but doesn’t really mean anything.
Willingness to Learn I’m not locked into the “We’ve always done it that way” mentality. I actively seek out new solutions and information—even if it comes from someone outside of my area of expertise.
Adaptability/Flexibility I’m focused on results rather than process. I’m willing to try new ideas and technologies in order to get the best results.
Problem Solving I’m proactive. I’m not interested in assigning blame (or avoiding it). I’m interested in fixing the problem. When I surface a problem I also suggest a possible solution to the problem instead of just complaining about it.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it gives you a sense of what I’m talking about. What behaviors would you add to the list for your company? What are the actions you and your employees take regularly that demonstrate that your core values aren’t just talk? If you say that you’re “customer-focused” what are the actions you take that demonstrate that?

Good core values are essential to the success of your company. But if you want to be exceptional, you’ve got to put those values into action. You’ve got to walk your talk.