Values. Principles. Beliefs. What’s The Difference?

Why mix terms?

Maybe they’re just trying to “cover their bases.” Or maybe they see a specific difference between these various concepts. 카지노사이트

Whatever the reason, I believe this makes it very confusing for all stakeholders (customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers, and the community at large).

Let’s a take a quick look at all three concepts.



The term Values is the most common one, where leaders use these in four different ways:

  • Values define acceptable behavior. This is how most companies use values (and generally stop here).
  • Values empower leaders to simplify and focus. Whether someone manages 10 or 10,000 people, every leader needs to be clear on a few top priorities in order to achieve key goals.
  • Values set strategic direction. Values help all stakeholders understand what is produced or provided, how it gets done, who is involved, where it belongs, and when and why it matters.
  • Values build competitive differentiation. Few do this at all, which happens to be my passion and focus: helping organizations identify and define differentiating values.

When Jim Collins wrote in his book Good to Great that Great organizations embrace values, in essence he was highlighting that they use values in all of these four ways.

Another way to think of values is that they are all about helping leaders determine and manage priorities.


When the topic comes up about ethics, then I think about principles. The best place to include a listing of principles is in a company’s Code of Business Conduct (COBC). It’s a governance issue. Principles are all about specifying, “how we behave here.”

Personally, I think you could take the list of 17 Common Values and turn them into a listing of principles, and then make this the COBC policy for a company. This document would then be made available for all employees and suppliers to read, with a copy placed under the “Governance” section of the company website. 바카라사이트


It’s interesting that many churches publish a Statement of Belief. It’s a way of saying to members, visitors, and even critics, “here is the lens through which we look at everything.”

The same can work for other organizations, including businesses.

Statement of Belief helps stakeholders understand all decisions and behaviors through the right lens. Ideally, this is used in the recruitment of new employees to ensure all new additions to the team share in the same set of beliefs.

OK. Are you confused yet?

Here’s what is clear about these three concepts: there is no consistent use of these terms. Companies use the terms ValuesPrinciples, and Beliefs interchangeably.

And worse, they mix them together. 온라인카지

Making It Worse

I’m always amazed (not in a good way) when I see a company with both stated values AND a listing of principles.

For example, consider the mix of values and principles at the following companies.

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