Why does an organization need to align its corporate values with its business strategy? Your strategic plan or the direction of your business is shaped by the choices and decisions your employees make every day. Cohesive, effective and successful strategy begins with the right type of people, but it is the organizations responsibility to ensure their values remain ingrained in everyday business practice to ensure they remain at the forefront of employees’ minds. Here are four tips for aligning values and strategy that are sure to result in the type of organization that exceeds expectations.No 1: Clarity in Definition…With Examples What does it mean to be an organization that “promotes integrity?” or “values honesty”? Clear and concise definitions using plain language and real life examples of your values in practice make it easier for people to understand and appreciate what it is you are trying to do. Well scripted words on a plaque hanging outside an office do very little to illustrate how your business lives and breathes the values it espouses every day. Make an effort to be clear and thorough when defining your values, and attract talent that will be on board with those values from the very beginning. No. 2: Reward and Recognize For your employees, when you recognize and reward desired behaviors, it tells them that you are serious about what you promote. Let them know that you see the choices they are making and that you appreciate their effort in leading the way for exceptional behavior. Encourage others to recognize values in action from others and make it a positive part of strategic initiatives. No. 3: Reinforce It’s simply not good enough to recommend that your employees live and breathe your values, you must reinforce them. That means to be intentional about what you espouse, and showcase those business decisions that are in line with the values you work so hard to promote. Highlight the activities of employees, vendors, even salespeople to reinforce desired behavior and ensure you practice what you preach. Put your people and their living of your values on a pedestal for all to see! No. 4: Create the Right Culture In business, culture is everything – at least in terms of providing the impetus for creativity, innovation and risk taking. But when it comes to aligning values and strategy, the right culture is a significant part of providing the framework necessary for people to exercise desired behaviors and values. In other words, making a decision because it’s the right thing to do instead of focusing in on profit is more likely to happen in a culture that promotes honesty and integrity over the bottom line. Create the right culture, and corporate values will align with business strategy in no time. All businesses need profitability to survive, but profits at the expense of strong values will always lose in the long-run. The connection between values and strategy should never be underestimated. Businesses that have learned to align both are more cohesive in terms of decision making and overall direction. Likeminded employees who share a common bond work more efficiently, are generally more effective, and help to attract future top-quality employees. Ultimately, organizations where strategy is defined by shared values have employees who are happier, and that is always a recipe for success.