Core Values Can Be Strategic: How the Basic Values of Procter & Gamble Transformed Leadership at Fortune 500 Companies
Open a newspaper, turn on the television news, or flip through any number of Internet sites, and it won’t take you long to find the stories of individuals, families, communities, and whole companies that have lost their way in the frantic chaos of existing and doing business these days. From the shifty ethics of giant energy companies to the shaky doings of a few media companies, some people just don’t seem to be anchored in values. Worse, companies that think they should make it often don’t. What went wrong? More than likely, they have gotten turned around on their path toward success because the principles for the way they did business weren’t driven by their core values.
What are core values? They are the tenets by which a company, community, or family operates. A value might be focusing on the benefit to consumer—in the quality, function, and safety of products. It might be having a clear vision, valuing teamwork, or seeking to change lives for the better. A core value could certainly be striving to do the right thing.
Values differ from company to company, but at Procter & Gamble (P&G), core values help create organizational form in their own unique context. Former CEO Ed Harness once said, “Though our greatest asset is our people, it is the consistency of principle and policy that gives us direction.” With that in mind, P&G makes core values strategic by finding and hiring outstanding men and women of the highest character, treating each employee as an individual who has his or her own unique talents and life goals, and providing for each employee a working environment that encourages, recognizes, and rewards individual and team achievements. As an employee, your ideas are welcomed...from day one. New employees learn about the heritage and history of their company. They hear about honesty, fairness, tradition, and integrity. Not only do they see character in action, but they begin to live out responsibility, dedicating themselves to constant improvement, being uncompromising, planning for long-term growth, making the hard decisions, and practicing disciplined and consistent thinking while having a vision to change lives.
These values become strategic when a company considers every decision based on what matters most: how to hire and keep top-quality people, how to react when a product threatens to harm consumers, and how to train and nurture employees for top performance. Those who continue to accomplish great things once they leave the company reflect on P&G’s reputation as one of the finest training grounds in corporate America and the world, which doesn’t hurt P&G’s future recruitment.
As you read on, you will explore the stories of individuals who experienced an uncommon sculpturing of their leadership skills and strategies through core values that the 175-year-old Procter & Gamble Company instilled within them. Their stories represent the experiences of thousands of employees who were part of a company that is genuinely concerned not only with results, but with how results are achieved. Today, these leaders are changing lives by applying core values they learned within Fortune 500 companies and leading non-profit organizations. The greater message—one that can have a huge impact on your own life or on the success of your family, community, or company—will come in recognizing how unchanging core values can become a strategic force in creating and perpetuating your long-term success.