Having a clear mission, vision, and values (MVV) statement, one the entire leadership team helped create, fully understands, and commits to follow, is a terrific tool. It not only provides a motivational and rallying point for employees and volunteers, it also provides important guidance when faced with tough choices or challenging situations.

Well-fashioned MVV Statements provide the clarity needed when facing complicated situations, or when emotions and personal preferences are aroused. Take Tiger Woods. He is the greatest golfer today…perhaps ever. Sponsors have been lining up to pay him millions to endorse their products for years. Once his personal failings surfaced, sponsors faced a real dilemma-stick with him, ride out the rough water, and hope things settle down once he returns to golf or, drop him as an advertising partner. A tough situation for sure.

Still, if a sponsor’s values include words like “integrity”, “honesty”, “truth”, there really is little to discuss. If you are to live out your values, then Tiger had to go. It’s just that simple.

Once, I had a very popular and smart department head who sometimes had problems getting details right. He was terrific with big picture issues and excelled at “connecting the dots”, but lost the team’s confidence in his work product. We got to the point that others on the leadership team felt they could not trust the accuracy of what came out of his department.

One of our corporate values was “truth”. I met with him and told him that while he had demonstrated the ability to significantly add value to the company, he was in danger due to his inability to perform his most basic job function as leader of a department-developing and delivering accurate data to us.

He was pretty shocked, and really had not seen this coming. He promised to address it ASAP. I am sure he went to some colleagues for informal confirmation of my challenge. Fortunately, “truth” came out and he got the confirmation he needed.

Before long he came back to me with a plan to correct his problem, which I endorsed. Before long, we saw significant improvement in the quality of his work and we kept a very good leadership team intact.

We could have just let this problem slide for a while, but his inability-and our values- would have required a more severe response. Instead, we worked through the problem and demonstrated to the company how our values help us… not inhibit us.