When it comes to organizations, core values are a set of beliefs that the members of the organization hold to the highest degree.
Members of the organization do everything with the core values in mind. Therefore core organizational values not only give purpose and direction, it also acts as a set of principles that dictate ethics and how the members of the organization comport themselves. Put simply, organizational core values are what the organization stands for.
In this post we take a look at the United States Military core values in branches of the armed forces like the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Why does the military have core values?
According to the United States Department of Defense, core values not only affect the day-to-day operations on a people level, it also impacts how people think of and relate to the organization. Therefore the core values of an organization are what give it a shared identity.
There are a few essential features of organizational core values. For starters, it is founding principles that do not change. Core values also come from within — meaning that it motivates how the people work in the organization — and do not require any form of external justification — which gives the organization its shared identity along with the members of the organization.
Finally, the core values serve as a yardstick for the organization to measure its success. It can prevent corruption, uphold ethics, and keep everyone in the organization accountable for maintaining the culture in the place they serve. This builds trust and helps to align teams and units to work together as one, despite the fact that any large organization is made up of wide reaching branches.
Take the core value of honesty, for example.
Organization X sets honesty as one of its core values. Every member that enters the organization must agree to learn the organization’s definition of honesty, and commit to acting out that definition in their day-to-day business. If every person in the organization truly operates with honesty, then the entire organization can share in the honest identity. That definition of identity is set by internal standards of practice, and therefore they do not need an outside source to verify its honesty value. Outsiders (and of course insiders) come to value that organization’s brand of honesty for what it is.
In short, the military has core values because each set of core values signifies the “price of admission” into that armed forces branch. These values must become integral to the operator’s code of conduct both on and off duty.
What are Army core values?
The United States Army is a land-focused branch of the armed forces.
Here are the 7 core values that Soldiers in the Army are all about.
A duty is a responsibility, a commitment, or an obligation. In the Army, duty has a greater meaning than simply completing assigned tasks, though that is certainly important. Duty has a cooperative meaning which dictates that you be able to function within a team. Army missions consist of many layers that depend on the success of each layer. Soldiers who fulfill their duties do not take any shortcuts in order to ensure the quality of the mission.
Integrity is the quality of operating with a strong moral compass. A Soldier of integrity not only does what is right and resists doing what is wrong, they also obey the law. Integrity extends beyond actions and involves not saying anything to deceive others. Making decisions with integrity can build trust, strengthen relationships, and help you believe in yourself.
Loyalty is the demonstration of allegiance and true faith. When a Soldier puts on the Army uniform, they are expressing loyalty to the United States Constitution, the Army, their unit, and all other Soldiers. Faith, or belief, plays a key role in trusting yourself and trusting those that you work with. A loyal Soldier will have faith in the directives of their leaders and have faith that what they are being asked to do is the correct task for mission success. A loyal soldier also protects and serves the other Soldiers around them, even if they must make a difficult decision when there is an easier way out.
Soldiers must be able to show courage in the face of moral or physical danger. When it comes to physical danger, a Soldier must risk their personal safety and endure stressful times without losing their ability to fulfill their duty — and with integrity. Moral courage is about making the right decisions even when it is not easy, and continuing to make those decisions over time even if it means that you lose popularity with others. Acts of personal courage build honor and protect fellow Soldiers.
Respect is not only admiration for something but a deeply felt belief that you should treat people with dignity — and that they would do the same to you. Not only does having respect for yourself guarantee that you are doing your job to the fullest, it enables you to appreciate that everyone else you work with helps to create the larger team that is the Army. When you respect yourself and others, it creates a trust that enables all duties to be completed.
Service is an act of assistance. In the Army, selfless service means that Soldiers work harder and leave no stone unturned so that they can complete their duty. It also means that the individual places the needs of the Army and those with a junior rank above their own. It means to figuratively take a bullet for someone — or to put yourself in the way of harm or adversity to protect someone else — and at times literally. The Army expects selfless service to be performed without the expectation of recognition or personal gain.
Soldiers who operate with honor do not quit, always place the mission first, and never leave a person behind — all parts of the Warrior Ethos. Honorable Soldiers live with this habit day in and day out. Honor is also an ability to live with all of the other Army core values — duty, integrity, loyalty, personal courage, respect, and selfless service.
What are Navy core values?
The United States Navy is a sea-focused branch of the armed forces.
Here are the 3 core values that Sailors in the Navy are all about.
Honor is the adherence to a code of conduct and to what is right. Sailors must not only be truthful and act ethically with others in the Navy, but also with civilians. This creates an open culture of feedback, where Sailors can make honest recommendations and also listen to those made by Sailors that are their subordinates. Honor means delivering good and bad news, even when it is difficult. It also means keeping your word no matter what. If someone is dishonorable, then the honorable thing to do is not tolerate that behavior and report it because dishonorable acts weaken integrity. Honorable Sailors are accountable for their behavior in and out of the Navy. Above all, honor in the Navy means recognizing that it is an honor to serve and defend our country and fellow Americans.
Courage is the ability to do something that could be scary, or even cause pain or adversity. In the Navy courage gives the Sailor the ability to do what is right in the face of challenge. Sailors must make decisions that put the needs and interests of the country and Navy first, even if self-sacrifice is necessary. This should be done without hesitation. However, courage does not mean that a Sailor will lose their integrity. Rather, a courageous Sailor maintains their honest code of conduct and loyalty to the United States while still serving and defending in a measured and efficient manner.
Commitment is a dedication to an engagement or obligation. Sailors must first and foremost obey the orders of those that are their superior. This respect for the Chain of Command comes with the understanding that everyone’s safety is looked out for, and also that Sailor’s professional, individual, and spiritual well-being are guarded. This means that not only are Sailors striving to better themselves in technical aspects of the job, but also maintaining respect for others regardless of race, religion or gender in order to uphold the Navy’s high moral character. The results help Sailors work together and improve everything from the individual, to the Navy as a whole and the work it does.
What are Air Force core values?
The Air Force is an air space-focused branch of the Armed Forces.
Here are the 3 core values — and corresponding virtues — that Sailors in the Navy are all about.
For Airmen, integrity means doing the right thing, even when no one is around to see you do it. In the face of temptation or adversity, integrity enables an operator to act morally. With integrity comes trust and respect. This helps the Airmen to align their thoughts and actions. Within integrity lies virtues like accountability, courage, honesty, and humility. Accountability means maintaining responsibility to one’s self, the mission, and to others. It enables ownership of personal actions and the outcomes of those actions. Courage not only helps people operate in the face of fear, make personal sacrifices, or do what is not easy to do, it helps an Airman admit when they are wrong. Honesty helps develop the Air Force as a trusted source and protector. Operators report findings accurately and truthfully — all the while still working to improve their craft. Finally, humility means placing your country and others before yourself. Remain humble and support the community.
Service Before Self
Serving your country takes discipline and sacrifice, but you must also take care of yourself. Love your neighbor as yourself. Selfless service also means that you pay proper respect to authority and follow rules. Service before self also contains virtues like duty, loyalty, and respect. Duty means consistently making those sacrifices in order to ensure the success of the mission. Loyalty is important because Airmen need to commit their allegiance to the Nation, to other Airmen, and to the American people. In another sense, loyalty enables trust throughout the Chain of Command, but it also helps create mutual respect so that operators can trust that their leaders have their well-being in mind. Respect permeates the entire organization, from the individual to the Air Force itself, and beyond to civilians. It creates accountability for the fair treatment of all.
Excellence In All We Do
Excellence means that you always improve at what you are doing — and that you do it with a passion. This is how the Air Force always stays on the cutting edge. Excellence is made up of virtues like discipline, mission, and teamwork. Discipline is an attitude and a work ethic that helps Airmen mature on many levels, from personal and professional to spiritual. Mission helps engender positive change and a commitment to diligent professionalism to get the job done. Teamwork makes the dream work. It helps individuals to do their best and to also motivate their teammates to do their best.
How are these values communicated and used?
Recruits begin to practice certain values before even entering a military branch. For starters, recruits must be honest and forthcoming about their personal information during the enlistment application. You will be detailed on your personal history, including education, medical, drug use, and work history. You will submit these records and then likely be interviewed about them, so honesty is important.
Recruits must also be respectful and courteous to recruiters. During the recruiting process, recruits have many duties to fulfill and obligations to meet that can range from paperwork, entrance processing, testing, training, and attending meetings.
Before entering boot camp, a recruit must memorize the core values of their branch (among a host of other items like rank recognition, drill and etiquette, and their branch’s creed) and be ready to recite them on command as well as provide a definition of what a given value means to them.
For example, if a Sailor is asked to name a core Navy value, they might say “Honor, Sir/Ma’am!” Then saying, “Honor means that I will honor my country, fellow Sailors, and the American people as I honor my mother and father — with respect and dignity. I will always be honest and behave with the highest morals, and I will not tolerate those among us who do not act with honor.”
These values are given to a future armed services member in an entry guide. The values are stated and clearly defined. So by the time a recruit gets to boot camp, they should know the core values. If not, those values will get drilled in during bootcamp in several ways. The members will likely face punishment (i.e., pushups) if they do not know the core values by heart. The training provided in boot camp will also instill the core values of the given military branch into the service person. There are also classes that cover the core values.
If an armed services member graduates basic training and joins, then they have been determined to operate with these values and characteristics. But those credentials are earned every single day. Just like any other job, you can be let go, or discharged for not upholding standards of behavior.
What can business, education and family learn from military application of values?
There’s plenty of good to take from the military’s core values, but there are a few key points that may be particularly useful for business, education, and family.
Businesses can learn to build trust and improve their brand image through values of sacrifice and service. By learning how to place the customer over its bottom line, businesses can embody the true meaning of selfless service. The phrase “it’s just business” often means that the company will value profit over the consumer’s end experience. Instead, champion an attitude of service and look to help others. Adopt a saying like “the customer is always right.”
Educational institutions and students can adopt an innovative mindset from military values like commitment and excellence. Innovation comes from dedicating oneself to mastering their craft and putting in the hard work towards self-improvement even when no one is looking.
Finally, families can learn how to maintain healthy relationships through courage. Too often, people accept abuse because they fear the consequences of confronting a loved one. Having the courage to stand up for who you love shows respect for basic human dignity. It is the right thing to do.
One overarching value that all three — business, education, and family — can learn from is the concept of holding the same values on and off duty. Nobody wants a sleazy business person, a teacher who doesn’t like youth and adolescents, or family members who don’t have your back. Holding yourself to the same standards “on and off duty” helps create integrity so that others can trust that you “are who you really are.” It gives you credibility and others will respect that.
Military values do a lot of things in action, but above all they help build a better world.