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The Ritz Carlton Hotel is known for the quality of its facilities and exceptional service. These add up to deliver a consistently exceptional experience for their guests. The Ritz is also known for its leadership development training where they share the Ritz Carlton business practices which have earned them the esteemed Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award, twice!

Such a legacy of quality doesn’t happen by accident. In fact, it is very intentional. They operate on a foundation of values and a philosophy they call the Gold Standards. These Gold Standards systematize living the Ritz’s motto, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen,” and ensure that each employee owns their core service values.

You don’t have to be The Ritz to consistently create an environment where your employees love to work and your customers love to do business. But you do have to be intentional about it. There are Five Keys to Success that any organization can follow.

Own Your Values – Core values are not just something that sound good. They are not created for marketing purposes and are not task to check off the strategic plan list. Owning your values means they are a non-negotiable part of who you are.

Define Your Values – Words have different meanings to different people so defining your values must include behaviors that reflect what the values look like in your operation. That requires dedicated leadership by the CEO, with the collaboration and buy-in of others within the organization. Collaboration increases commitment. People who share in defining core values are more likely to participate in living them.

Share Your Values – They must also be continuously shared internally and externally, in words and deeds, through a variety of channels. As with any other marketing program, the message needs to be clearly focused, creatively presented, and frequently repeated.

Institutionalize Your Values – Core values need supportive infrastructure in order to thrive. If you don’t integrate them into your company’s operations—if you don’t institutionalize them—they will have little sustained impact.

Honor Your Values – Clear definitions, effective communication, and comprehensive support of core values are all necessary. But in the final analysis, actions speak louder than words. To be authentic, core values must be lived. To guard against compromise in your company, establish an accountability structure that starts at the top. Honoring core values requires conviction and courage, reinforced by accountability.

Although living core values promotes maximum business success—and the definition of business success includes profitability—organizations that benefit most from living their core values tend to define success in light of their values. They’re working for rewards that are substantially greater than profitability alone. Find out for yourself how valuable core values can be. Your company will be more prosperous in tangible terms. But even more important, you will grow to appreciate that the greatest value of core values is ultimately in the values themselves.

About the author

Lisa Huetteman Lisa Huetteman is Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Black Diamond Associates, Executive Coach, Speaker and Author of the book The Value of Core Values: Five Keys to Success through Values-Centered Leadership. www.TheValueOfCoreValues.com

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