What Are Some Examples of Real Core Values?

Most core values are vanilla statements, made by committees that mean nothing in the actual functioning of the organization.

Usually they state the obvious.  Things like:

  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Customer
  • Service
  • Price
  • People

And so on.  It’s not that any of these things are bad.  They’re good.  They just don’t differentiate your organization from anyone else’s.   These same ‘values’ could be hanging on any of your competitor’s walls.  And, I should add, they would make no difference to your competitor’s business either.

Once a committee has taken over, the values are posted in a beautiful frame, written on special paper, in calligraphy.  Then, everyone walks past them, never looks at them again, and goes completely numb to the words on the page.

In this article, I’m going to give you some examples of real core values.  Choose the ones that apply to you, and use them daily in the business.

We’ll talk about two types of core values:

  1. Core values of large companies we’ve all heard of
  2. Core values of real midmarket companies that make sense for most of us

1. Core values of large companies we’ve all heard of

Large companies often choose values that aren’t directly related to the behavior of the employees.  They tend to emphasize long term vision and strategy.  These are of a lot of use to boards and shareholders, but they’re less useful for people with boots on the ground.  Here are some examples:


  • Trust
  • Customer success
  • Analytical
  • Transparent
  • Tenacious
  • Diverse and Inclusive


  • Creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome
  • Acting with courage, challenging the status quo.
  • Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.
  • Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.
  • We are performance driven, through the lens of humanity.


  • Be bold
  • Focus on impact
  • Move fast
  • Be open
  • Build social value


  • Quality
  • Responsibility
  • Mutuality
  • Efficiency
  • Freedom

These values are designed to shape the overall business.  They have a secondary value of shaping the attitudes and behaviors of their employees.  Some are lofty, and some would be applicable to any employee on any given day.  Are there any that resonate with you and your company?

When choosing them, imagine one of your best team members and list the qualities that you love about them.

Do these qualities represent something that is a wider value of the entire company?  Would you love everyone to behave just like them?

The Professional Leadership Institute provides training on How to Create Company Core Values and offers a free preview.

2. Core values of real midmarket companies that make sense for most of us

Midmarket companies (under $100 million) comprise the vast majority of enterprises in the world.  They don’t need to give their boards and shareholders direction.  They need core values to help every single employee to know how they should behave every single day.

Here is a list of real core values used by companies that you may never have heard of.  They are regional, and most are under $100 million in sales.  Just like your organization!

These values are very practical and apply to everyone, from the CEO to the most entry-level hire.

Do any of these real values resonate with you and could they transfer to your culture?

  • Get it done
  • Work passionately
  • Respect others
  • Continuous improvement
  • Professionalism
  • Do more with less
  • Win together, not alone
  • Tidy and clean
  • Open and transparent
  • No surprises
  • Raise the bar
  • Always positive
  • Trustworthy – do the right thing and do things right
  • Obey the golden rule
  • Think win-win
  • Fanatical customer service
  • Invest wisely
  • Focus on results
  • No one’s too good to wash toilets
  • Be a lifter not a leaner
  • Relationships first
  • Your attitude determines your altitude
  • House of ‘yes’ as long as it’s not immoral or illegal, make the customer happy!
  • Watch the pennies
  • Make everything a Wow!
  • Always do the right thing
  • Accountable for our successes and setbacks
  • Do it now!
  • G-rated culture
  • Make a customer’s day
  • Always be busy
  • Think it through
  • Customer relationships first
  • Find a better way
  • Superb quality work
  • Salary maker, not salary taker
  • High performance
  • Trusting relationships

The great thing about each of these values is that they connect to real-life behavior.  They aren’t pie-in-the sky.  Each one is very practical in its orientation.

Choose values that work for your company.  Involve everyone in picking them.  Remember, ‘people embrace what they help create.’

In summary:

Companies of all sizes use core values, but in different ways.

  1. Very large companies use values to direct boards and inform shareholders.
  2. Midmarket companies use core values to direct he behavior of every employee, every day

Additional resources

Thanks for reading this article on getting over delegation guilt.  Below are additional resources from Professional Leadership Institute, the global provider of online human resources and leadership tools:

Discovering and implementing core values (eLearning course including templates and cheat sheets) https://learning.professionalleadershipinstitute.com/courses/core-values

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com https://www.professionalleadershipinstitute.com/

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here: https://www.amazon.com/Power-People-Skills-Dramatically-Performance/dp/1632651068

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