How three CEOs tie success to clear company values
Just like human DNA makes each of us unique, no two companies would ever write or use corporate values in identical ways. In a recent event with goBeyondProfit members, the CEOs of Gas South, Vector Global Logistics and SignatureFD shared the different ways they express and use values.
goBeyondProfit President Megan McCamey asked whether each had defined corporate values that their people know and that help guide decisions. She got an unequivocal yes from all three.
Unique values expressions
SignatureFD CEO Heather Fortner said, “Our core values are our “Six G’s;” we have Greatness, Generosity, Growth, Gratitude, Grit and Grace. Everybody here can tell you what they are. We award on them. We hire on them. We evaluate performance on them. Values are the way I hold myself accountable and the way that we hold each other accountable.”
CEO Kevin Greiner said, “At Gas South it all starts with our purpose of being a ‘Fuel for Good.’ For us, that means caring for our customers and our employees and elevating our industry and communities. Our values we call ‘The Gas South Way.’ They’re very simple: Put people first; Do what’s right; and Strive to win. We put all of our decisions at the company level through both the Fuel for Good paradigm, and then also those values.”
“For instance, Gas South gives back 5% of our profits to children in need and we have a bonus pool, which is very transparently geared off of how much money the company makes. Everybody sees being profitable as very important for doing good for our employees and our community. Our success is tied to values and our purpose of being a fuel for good.”
Enrique Alvarez at Vector Global Logistics defined three values, too. “At Vector, we believe that a few caring people can and will change the world. So, our values are lined up with that mentality and the passion that we have to make a positive impact in the world. We have three very straightforward values:
- Logistics with purpose. We do logistics, but that’s not why we do it. We all know that why we’re doing is because we want to generate a better outcome for people and create a positive impact in the world.
- Results-based culture. This means taking the time and space component out of the equation. So, for us, working nine to five or when our lunch is; none of that really makes any sense and we don’t really care as long as the results are met.
- And the third one Passionate about People. We’re really passionate about everyone that we interact with, no matter if it’s an employee a client, supplier or just whoever delivers our mail to the office. We really tried to build long term relationships with them.”
Decision-making based on values
All three CEOs expressed deep, systemic use of the values for decisioning and aligning their people.
“Every decision that we make as an organization is run through our six core values,” Fortner said. Some specific examples she shared:
- “If there is behavior that needs to be corrected, it is called out in the context of the core value that it violates. We help with people’s career path or develop them as professionals, based on whether or not they are in alignment with our core values.
- “We celebrate our people and values at year end. We celebrate each G and have a G winner at the end of the year, who each get a $1,000 cash prize. And then there is a $6,000 cash prize for the person who best exhibits all six core values.
- “When we’re in the boardroom and decision-making gets hard, we have something to come back to. We have our six core values and if a decision passes through the lens of each one of those core values, then we know that we have something to stand on.”
Gas South CEO Kevin Greiner added, “It’s hard to strike the right balance, sometimes.” He cited an example of a recent acquisition Gas South made of a company that did not stay open to receive customer calls on Saturdays. The values choice fell to weighing care for employees vs. caring for customers. “You should be open to having those trade-offs,” Greiner said. “That ends up being part of your value system as well.”
Much bigger than profits
Alvarez shared this thought for leaders, “Some people start a company, and they rework into what the mission should be, and then they apply the mission. I mean this works, too, but I think that if entrepreneurs out there are trying to start something, I would say that the easiest thing to do is to start with why. Why are you doing it? It has to be a much, much bigger than just profits.”