Core Values: Walk the Talk

Core Values

Healthcare and many other organizations display their Mission, Vision, and Values adopted and approved by Leadership and/or their Board of Trustees. These statements are typically on a wall near a hospital entrance and other strategic locations within the organization for the public to view. The are there because these values have been deemed to be important to the leadership, the board, and the healthcare colleagues who provide care in the organization. Examples could be: Integrity, Stewardship, Respect, Teamwork, Excellence, Quality, Safety, Diversity…the list is long.

Perception or Reality

The easiest way to determine if the organizational Core Values are part of the organization’s DNA is to ask the people who work there. Ask employees how they would describe their organization or what they feel the core values of the organization are? The perceived Core Values will surface. Perceived core values by colleagues may differ from the stated core values.

Talk versus Walk

For example, the reply may be “our organization is always focusing on how we can perform better.” That would represent an organization that works to continually improve, and believes that their excellence tomorrow is greater than their excellence today. The core value being lived out is Excellence. The behavior in the organization backs this up.

If a core value is teamwork and the employees answer was that there are a lot of silos in our organization, then the core value of teamwork will not align with reality of the work environment and work is needed to develop the core value of teamwork in the organization.

Just as the Mission and Vision are part of the organization’s DNA, the Core Values displayed by leadership, colleagues, and other internal stakeholders of the organization can display the type of organizational values projected beyond the walls of the organization.

Adopted core values observed in employee behaviors are referred to as core (value) competencies. Competencies are evidence that employees embrace the values that the organization holds in high esteem and desire to be known by internally and externally.


Behaviors displayed at all levels of an organization should align with the core values adopted by the organization. The values should be threaded in the organization’s systems and processes to become easily recognized by colleagues and guests. Values need to be taught, assessed regularly, and audited to make sure they are grounded in the organization.

The DNA (life) of the organization is dependent on it!

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