Your values - what you value and believe in, are important in providing decision making framework where there are no clear guidelines. It determines the Corporate character that is the sum total of the individuals working in the corporation.
The 1st and basic value is Commitment to the Mission, Vision and Values of the Corporate. Without this commitment, all other stated values are mere talk and are useless.
The next is to realize that Corporation is an an organization of Individuals working together to achieve a common mission. The Bible uses the metaphor of a Living Organism of many parts of different functions to describe the Corporate Church (Rom 12, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4). Two key points are:
1. Difference (function) is valued and "Respected". All parts cannot be the same.
2. Difference need to be aligned and synchronized toward achieving the mission.
The underlying value to unite the differences is LOVE. But love is such a misunderstood and misused term that need to be further qualified. The Bible uses another metaphor - A Family to describe an organization. We are to treat each other as brothers and sisters.
Jesus uses the "Golden Rule" to give substance to love. He said in Mat 7:12 "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." or in modern language "Treat others as you want them to treat you".
Someone is quick to point out that due to difference in personality, cultures or taste, what you like is not what others may like. But if you study the statement in context, v12 starts with therefore, which means it is the followup of previous verses. The earlier verse spoke about people asking for things first and the father supplying them. To me, this verse means the following: (The similar verse Luke 6:31 has a similar context of request and more than satisfying the request - the spirit of service )
1. Put yourself in their position first- understand them from their point of view.
2. Ask them what they would like.
3. Do for them what they ask.
So, someone has nicely re-phrase it in the Platinum rule as "Do Unto Others as They Would Have You Do Unto Them".
The value we need is "Empathy" or "Understanding" and "Service".
Misunderstanding comes often from lack of communication. Communicate often and transparently and honestly facilitates understanding. Differences in personality, cultures, and other background also behooves more communication to minimize misunderstanding and to create trust. "Respect" of individual differences helps in gaining understanding and creating trust. Trust comes from "Integrity". Integrity is made up of "Honesty" and "Competence". Competence is delivering the commitment made.
Living and Healthy Organism grows. The other value that Corporate must have is "Learning" resulting in "Innovations". Learning is about overcoming limitations, gaining new knowledge, being innovative, being adaptable to changes, and being agile. One must be humble to learn and be corrected. Humility is a value to have.
In the midst of performance targets, we may quickly forget the basic rule of love and hence, adding in "compassionate" and "care" are good values for our reminders. Life is more than just materials earnings and profits.
Others may want to add "value-adding" but I think this should be or implied in the mission statement. No corporation can survive without providing value-add.
(12 Feb 2011) add the following:
Values should be balancing.
For example, love at the extreme, ignoring justice, leads to indulgence and lawlessness. Bravery to the extreme is recklessness. We need to be hardworking and smart. Successful entrepreneurs are not risk taker but minimizing risk bold mover. They probe and test key assumptions before making the big bold move. Chinese' animal year of birth signs have an interesting balanced values to tell. See Complementary Values from Chinese Zodiac Signs.
Values must support the Mission
Not all values support the mission directly. If you are in the food industry, then personal hygiene, health, cleanliness are key values.
Values must be Implemented
Values are not the statements that you put on the wall. They must be practiced. It is better to have policies and rules made up from the values. Back to the Food Industry example. The value of cleanliness must be implemented in rules such as regular cleaning of the work place, washing of hands, clothes and so forth. Values are best communicated with frequent citing of good behavior that reflect such values. It is good to have a book of testimonies showing such values. They also best contributed by staff, customers and partners. With the social media technology available now, it is easy and good to have such stories told and shared.