At Work

In Praise of an Uncommon Corporate Value

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We’ve all seen them: inspirational posters in the hallways extolling the company values. They often feature things like integrity, innovation, teamwork, customer service, etc.

Years ago, I encountered a corporate value I had never seen before. It is one I have come to cherish.

An Uncommon Corporate Value

Several years ago, I was contacted by a software company in Europe. They were looking for someone to run their North American subsidiary.

The job looked good on paper and our initial phone calls went well. We decided I should spend time at HQ so we could get to know each other better.

On my first day, I learned about the corporate and product strategy. I met the investors and walked through the finances. We talked about global expansion and brand development plans.

I liked the people, but there were a lot of problems.

Cash flow was tight. There were serious customer support issues. Many of the products had become outdated and needed overhauling. Investors were becoming impatient.

By the end of the day, I decided the cons outweighed the pros with this company. My plan was to politely decline the job offer at dinner that night with the CEO.

As we made our way through dinner, we talked about our families and work experiences. We laughed about crazy business anecdotes and travel fiascos. We shared stories about epic mistakes each of us had made.

Finally, he explained the company’s corporate values to me. It was the usual stuff…integrity, innovation, teamwork, etc.

Then he came to the last value: warmth.

Warmth as a corporate value? That was a new one for me!

He explained that warm, caring relationships with clients, investors, partners, and each other were an essential part of their business philosophy. Warmth enabled them to work through hard issues.

Warmth gave them the freedom to ask and care about each other’s families. It created a fabric of trust supporting them through tough decisions.

Warmth didn’t make all the problems go away. But, his description of it did inspire me. Something was different about this company.

I changed my mind and accepted the offer.

I loved (and still love) that they invested so much into warmth as a corporate value. It was that warmth, along with a lot of hard work and persistence, that saw us through the Great Recession. We emerged with a special culture and deep friendships.

What Does the Bible Say about Warmth?

In Ephesians 4:31-5:2, Paul writes,

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Paul calls us to a lifestyle of genuine love and tenderheartedness (warmth).

We are to put off the character of war – bitterness, wrath, anger, slander, and, instead, be imitators of Christ by putting on the character of peace – kindness, tenderheartedness, forgiveness.

Jesus often showed warm affection for those he met, especially those who were suffering (Matthew 9:36, 14:14). And, of course, in dying in our place, he made the ultimate peace offering.

How do we get this value of warmth in the workplace?

It’s our job to bring it, even if it’s not listed on the company poster.

Our role in redemption is to reflect the character of our king in every aspect of life, even at work.

We are not called to simply have romantic thoughts about the idea of warmth. We’re called to live it. We’re called to be passionate advocates for it – even in the workplace, even when our colleagues are hard to love.

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