Companies including Amazon, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Disney, and Google use mission statements, vision statements, and core values to guide their decision making. From executives to baristas and software technicians and everything in between, these frameworks provide a structure and a guiding light to everyone in the organization. Another great example of a company who uses a framework of values to guide their behavior is Zappos (more here). As you can see from the first sentence on the page, Zappos let’s their core values guide their behavior: “At Zappos our 10 Core Values are more than just words, they’re a way of life.” At Zappos (and the other companies listed here), the shared beliefs of the organization provide direction to employees to ensure that the company thrives and works toward its goals.
Now that you’ve been introduced to how a framework of beliefs can guide behavior, study the image below. This is a visual representation of Seattle Seahawks’ Head Coach Pete Carroll’s philosophy and beliefs behind coaching and running a football team. What stands out about what you see? Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the image and the philosophy itself – the fact that he could fit all his foundational coaching beliefs into one small triangle. Or maybe it’s the structure of the triangle itself – how it is broken down into segments for “Belief System,” “Central Theme,” “Environment,” and “Performance.” Or, maybe it’s the title, Win Forever (which also happens to be the title of his book), or some of the taglines and sayings littered throughout the image (e.g., “If you want to win forever, always compete”). Regardless of what you notice, many great leaders, including other examples from coaches in the sports world (e.g., John Wooden, Bill Walsh), have taken the time to summarize and write out their foundational beliefs and values in coaching and leadership.
Now, take a few minutes and watch the following video from Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks: Practice is Everything. How many of the same themes and beliefs did you see or hear from Carroll in the video? First, the title of the video, Practice is Everything, is the “Environment” that Carroll is trying to get his team to buy into. They clearly value practice and you can hear that in Carroll’s description of their training. You also heard the “Central Theme” of the program, “Competition,” reiterated over and over in how they structure their practice sessions. And what about Carroll and his staff? The “Style” with which they coach is with great enthusiasm and energy. The video is a great example of when beliefs drive behavior and there is great synergy between what you say and what you do. The foundational beliefs and the values that Carroll wants his program to live according to are not simply lip service or graphics on the walls of the Seahawks’ practice facilities – Carroll, and his coaching staff, are a living, breathing embodiment of those values. This is what it looks like when beliefs about how to run a company, organization, or team directly influence what you do each day, and how you do it.
Pete Carroll summarized his beliefs using the above image. Legendary UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden used a similar image to represent his Pyramid of Success. NFL Hall of Fame Coach Bill Walsh (San Francisco 49ers) developed a list of rules and beliefs that he termed his “Standards of Performance” (more on that in his book: The Score Takes Care of Itself). How can you be more deliberate about listing out your beliefs or values for your company or team? What kind of environment are you trying to create within your office? What is the style and vibe with which you communicate, run meetings, and treat clients? Start asking yourself these questions and jotting down some of your thoughts on what you really believe drives performance in your field. Then, think about the action steps that you can take. How can you put those beliefs and put them into action? How can your values drive what you do? When your beliefs start guiding behavior, you’re taken a huge step forward on the path of becoming a great team and toward consistent peak performance.