I returned home recently from Houston, TX, where I have been a speaker for the last 10 years at a leadership development program called the Leadership Development Institute(LDI).

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office, which is the 4th largest Sheriff’s Office in the U.S. and a leader in training and development, runs LDI. This event brings its brightest rising stars in the department into one room each and every year.

To give you an idea of how special it is, only 30 people from all parts of the HCSO are accepted into the program from hundreds of applicants. It’s a big deal!

As annual speaker at this event, my topic every year is Core Values.

If you haven’t heard me speak about the critical importance of Core Values in an organization, check out the video below to give you an idea of how we use them at align5.

Click Here to Watch John’s Video – Core Values at align5

In fact, I believe in the power of Core Values so much that, in Year 1 of the LDI program, we convinced the Sheriff, an elected position in Harris County, to add a 5th Core Value to the 4 they already had.

That Core Value — “Develop, encourage, and care for our Sheriff’s Office family”, was literally created by the class on Day 1 of Year 1 of the program!

As you can imagine, it is no small feat to add a Value to an organization of that size (today, nearly 5000 employees) without some effort… but amazingly, it happened in a single day. Imagine the cost of repainting vehicles, letterhead, wall hangings, etc.

This fifth Core Value came from the recognition that the other values all tied back to “Protect and Serve.” We noticed that there was no Core Value that specifically addressed the men and women of the HCSO that put their lives on the line every day, so it was a natural fit.

A decade in the making, and the “new” Value is alive and well. One class member even said, “I can’t believe this Value came about only in the last 10 years…it seems like we have had it forever.”

I have been back every year to speak to a new class, but this year (the 10th year) was special.

After class, I had some time to reflect…

I normally speak to business groups, not usually in the public sector. But during the talk and in the subsequent discussions I led, it became even more apparent that anyone bringing together a group for the common good can benefit from adhering to Core Values.

Whether that be a private company or public, service organization or law enforcementany organization can benefit from a deep commitment to a set of Core Values.

Core Values can:

  • Attract the right people and repel the wrong people
  • Help with better decision making—especially when faced with incomplete information
  • Give leaders and teams a common (and unique) language
  • Be used to praise and coach the right behavior.

Above all, they can give people a sense of purpose and connection to something larger than themselves.

I have often said that I can point to many examples of companies that have some level of success that don’t really do well at Core Values. But it is really difficult to come up with examples of companies that have failed with deeply adopted Core Values!

So, while not a requirement for success, well established Core Values really stack the deck in your favor!

Hats off to HCSO for investing in leaders, and using Core Values to make their organization a model for law enforcement nationwide!


Founder of the align5 Companies,  CEO of Scaling Up Coaches, and Serial Entrepreneur

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