3. Use a guiding principle Featured

8:00pm EDT October 26, 2009

At international law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP, Chairman Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. leads by using a set of values the firm wants to live by to drive everything, from hiring to giving raises, for its 2,200 employees, 1,000 of which are attorneys.

“We’re a value-driven firm, so whether it’s compensating partners, deciding who to call back from law school interviews to evaluating administrative assistants or marketing professionals, each of us is evaluated in terms of excellence, leadership and citizenship,” he says. “Almost all of our messaging is focused around our values, and that is a unifying theme.”

The idea is simple: If you have four core values that you want your people to live by, do something today to show people that those are important so everyone realizes you aren’t just floating around big ideas — you’ve created a shared rallying point.

For example, O’Melveny makes community service an important value, so the company regularly shares the good work that people do in firmwide communication.

Another piece is celebrating your guiding principle. While most leaders will happily share with you their company values, how many of them have a process for celebrating them in a way that encourages people to make them part of daily life?

At O’Melveny, recognition is given to those who exemplify the firm’s values.

“We give values awards every year to two partners, two associates in counsel and two members of our staff,” Culvahouse says. “So that binds us together in ways that are unique.”