Embody the Values

When I think about values, I love the picture of a ship’s wheel. It is amazing that a wheel can drive these massive ships with just a turn. I went out and bought a ship wheel a few years ago when I began teaching on Simmons’ Values. It was off of a boat from the Port of Brownsville (TX) and was still connected to the original wood and you could still spin it. I was going to use it to speak to the fact that our Values drive our decision making and culture.

The wheel was sitting on my office desk one day and something struck me - aside from being decorative, that wheel is worthless now that it is disconnected from the rudder. It has no power to move, drive, or direct any change or make a journey as long as the rudder and the wheel are detached.

The same is true in regards to our Values. If our Values are disconnected from our behaviors, attitudes and actions, they are not worth the price of paper they are printed on. They are merely decoration.

So how do we embody our Values? 

Simmons’ Values

  1. Put People First

  2. Act with Integrity

  3. Take Responsibility

  4. Be Curious

  5. Take Action


Meaning: To live in a fashion consistent with our stated values.

Principle behind the practice: More of leadership is caught rather than taught. In other words, people watch the leader and learn from his or her example.

Caution: If the leader doesn’t embody the values, the trust of his or her followers will erode, and ultimately the leader will forfeit the opportunity to lead.  

Single-word focus: Credibility

Key Questions:

  • What values or beliefs do I want to drive the behavior of my organization?

  • How can I communicate these values?

  • Which of these values do I most consistently model?

  • Which of these do I need to work on?

  • What are my actions communicating?

Here’s what I love about those questions: as the famous quote says, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” These questions put the emphasis on taking responsibility for the type of culture we are wanting to create. If we were to wait for everyone else to begin - we would end up taking our values and living the absolute opposite. There’s not a business or family that will ever experience the health and culture it desires to by waiting for everybody else to get their act together. So what would a misalignment with our Values (our talk) and our behaviors (our walk) look like here at Simmons? Here’s what that might look like:

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be part of a team or company that is aiming for the right side! Embodying the Values then looks like you and I taking responsibility for these Values. If there is misalignment in any of these Values, we are the ones to stand up and become a catalyst to positive change? As we make day-to-day decisions, these Values are driving our process and thinking:

Put People First

  • How does this impact our people? For good? What do I need to communicate to others to bring clarity? Have I said “thank you”?

Act with Integrity

  • Have I been honest? Am I the same person in a group as I am when no one is looking? Am I being trustworthy?

Take Responsibility

  • Is there anything with this problem/solution that I need to take ownership of? Am I being held accountable and holding others accountable to commitments well?

Be Curious

  • Is this the B.E.S.T (Better, Easier, Safer, Today) way to do this? Have I applied our LEAN rules and principles? If I were to take a more innovative approach, what are the possibilities?

Take Action

  •  Are there ideas that I or others have had that I have yet to act on? Is there any fear present on my team or in my department that might keep others from Taking Action?

I came to Simmons because of what I saw that we wanted to become as a company and I wanted to be a part of that change and have a positive impact on the lives of the people that God has placed in this company. Wherever you are, and whatever you do, you have an opportunity to live out our Values in your corner of our company. Imagine if just a few people took the initiative to intentionally embody our values - how quickly that spark can turn into flame and ignite positive change in your team and in our culture. May that continue to be true of us.