A business without core values isn’t really a business.

How can we build great teams, deliver an excellent customer service and foster innovation if we haven’t defined and shared our company values with our employees?

In essence, our company values are the beliefs, philosophies, and principles that drive your business. They impact the employee experience we deliver as well as the relationship we develop with your customers, partners, and shareholders.

Our company values are our company’s DNA and they help us differentiate our business from the competition. That’s why we can’t make any important business decisions without having them in mind.

Selflessness: Put the WE before the ME.

What does it mean to be selfless? Selflessness is defined as being concerned “more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.”

We all have things that we want and there is nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to operating on a team, no one likes working with someone who doesn’t put the team’s goals first.

There is an underlying social commitment that we make when we join a team. We expect that everyone on the team wants what’s best for the team and will do anything to help it succeed. We expect team members to be available when we need to get information or exchange ideas.

When a team member knows that others are going to honor the social contract—that it’s not just lip service but observable on a daily basis—this creates trust. When trust exists, the team is able to operate at a high level and reach its goals.

The funny part about all of this is that when we put the needs of others before our own, our needs will be met as well. It is a very fulfilling process for the whole team. But when you don’t put others before yourself, you make your life much harder. People don’t want to work with you, don’t want to share information with you, and will generally keep you at arms length. This is not a fun way to work.

The value of team before self also applies outside of our immediate team. Most of us are members of multiple teams—the largest being the company as a whole. We need to always be thinking about what is in the company’s best interest.

Selflessness also applies when partnering with clients. Each time we work with a client we have the opportunity to exhibit selfless behavior. This demonstrates that we have their best interests in mind, creating trust and benefitting both of us.

At Bongarde, we value those who believe in exhibiting selflessness. We know that when all of our team members are practicing selflessness we can operate at the highest level. People who aren’t displaying this value get feedback from the team to help them improve. None of us are perfect, and we all have bad days sometimes. But selfishness can’t be a consistent behavior. We expect that our team members show a commitment to selflessness that is evident in their behavior.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

All Things are Difficult Before They Are Easy – Thomas Fuller

Entrepreneurs are restless and energetic.  They are unwilling to accept “it cannot be done” as an answer. They pursue innovation and push the limits to find solutions because they are not willing to accept the status quo. Courage and imagination fuel their progress.

Entrepreneurial spirit is an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It’s a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement.

The spirit of entrepreneurship is encouraged throughout our organization.  At every level, our associates are encouraged and trusted to think creatively and be innovative in finding solutions. Exploring new ideas, identifying opportunities, assessing risks and taking action are not only desired, they are expected.

Entrepreneurial spirit is the value that enables our company to look beyond accepted boundaries and to continuously find new ways to improve our value to our associates, our members and our communities.

Who is someone with an entrepreneurial spirit?

  1. Has Passion and Purpose
  2. Has Ambition, Dreamer, Big thinker
  3. Takes Action — Is a doer
  4. Is a Leader, has a Vision and Foresight — ability to relate and inspire others, leading a team
  5. Takes Calculated Risks
  6. Is Always Learning and Growing
  7. Is Highly Adaptable — Can face challenges, Bounces back quickly from failure
  8. Is Resourceful — Makes opportunities
  9. Is Critical — Always questioning how it can be done better and finding solutions, sometimes laterally
  10. Has a Positive and Optimistic Outlook

Lead by Example

When you lead by example, you create a picture of what’s possible. People can look at you and say, “Well, if he can do it, I can do it.” When you lead by example, you make it easy for others to follow you.

True Leaders, lead by example. Leading by example is taking action. It is doing what is necessary to move forward and help your coworkers and the organization succeed, even if it is not defined in your role. It is recognizing that your work influences and affects the people around you. Your work allows others to be able to do their work effectively and efficiently. Leadership is not a rank, it is a decision, it is a choice. If you decide to look after the person to the left of you and the person to the right of you, you are a leader.

At Bongarde, we choose to look out for our coworkers. We work together and support one another so that we can move forward. The true Bongardian is someone who leads by example. They recognize that talk can only go so far and that showing up and doing their work effectively and to the best of their ability will allow others to do their work to the best of their ability.

Here are seven ways to lead by example and inspire your team.

  1. Get your hands dirty. 
  2. Watch what you say. Actions do speak louder than words, but words can have a direct impact on morale. For better or for worse. Be mindful of what you say, to whom, and who is listening. Always show support for all team members. If someone needs extra guidance, provide it behind closed doors.
  3. Respect the chain of command. 
  4. Listen to the team. Listen and get feedback from your team regularly.
  5. Take responsibility. As the saying goes, it’s lonely at the top. Blame roles uphill.
  6. Let the team do their thing. Stop micromanaging. Communicate the mission, vision, values, and goals. Then step back and let the team innovate.
  7. Take care of yourself. 


Ownership is really about taking initiative. It’s an understanding that taking action is your responsibility, not someone else’s. It’s the fundamental principle that you, as an individual, are accountable for the delivery of an outcome, even where others have a role to play.

Taking ownership of a project doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re managing a project. It certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put your trust in others. What it means is that you should care about the outcome to the extent that you would care if you were the owner of the organization. You should feel an obligation to the results of the organization and act on items wherever required to achieve those results.

Sometimes you lack the time or resources needed to complete a task, or what you need resides elsewhere in the organization. In these cases, taking ownership means bringing your idea forward to someone who has the capacity to get it done, instead of using circumstances to justify inaction.

Taking ownership is a commitment. It tells others that you can be trusted to do what’s required.

Being accountable means taking responsibility for an outcome. Where ownership is the initiative, accountability is the follow-through.

It means you will deliver as promised, respecting any deadlines or budget constraints that were mandated to you. It also means you’re forthcoming when, as sometimes happens, you weren’t able to deliver. Being accountable for a project means that you are honest and proactive with your communication when you are ultimately unable to deliver what was promised. By taking responsibility for failure as well as for success, you’re demonstrating an acknowledgement of the impact you’ve had on teammates. This, in turn, usually earns you the respect of your teammates, even if you weren’t able to deliver. So you can begin to see why accountability and trust are so closely linked.

Being accountable tells others that you can be trusted to do what you say you are going to do. This is integrity in its purest form.

Someone with integrity and accountability will exhibit the following:

  1. Keep their word
  2. Manage expectations
  3. Make realistic promises and commitments
  4. Be respectful
  5. Know they have the ability to do more than their perceived limitations
  6. Follow and enforce company rules
  7. Proactively solve problems
  8. Be honest and transparent in their work
  9. Don’t make excuses
  10. Review and evaluate to improve

Fail Forward

Failure isn’t fatal; in fact, it is actually REQUIRED for innovation success—as long as you don’t freak out, make catastrophic mistakes, take a long time to do it, or (ironically) fail to learn from it.

You need to accept the fact that you are going to fail if you are going to do your best work, and you need to make sure that everyone on our team—and, indeed, in our entire company—understands it, as well. You need to free yourself from the innovation-limiting shackles of perfection; don’t let them ruin good with perfect.

Great innovation, like great people, typically is not born; it is the result of trial and error.

To fail forward means to purposefully and deliberately use failure to find success. It’s a conscious process that first requires us to give up the obsessive need to be perfect. Life is perfectly imperfect, and so are we. When we try to be perfect, we limit our ability to grow, because we stay in our comfort zone and avoid even healthy risks.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t prepare, or anticipate challenges, or assess risk. To the contrary – the basis of failing forward is to get better at mitigating risk and at the same time not hold ourselves back. Make our mistakes at a smaller scale, double-down on successes, and always look for constant growth.

Own Our Process/Consistency

We show up every day, do our jobs and hit the ground running. Consistency is about doing your job whatever the place you’re in, whether you’re in a good mood or not.

Hard Work Pays Off Every Day

We believe that success isn’t about luck ― or even ambition. It’s about focusing on what needs to be done and following through, no matter the obstacles or hurdles. It also means owning the processes we’ve created and following those processes. We want to continually improve, but if every action becomes an exception to the process, then there is no process, and no way to scale or improve in bulk.

At Bongarde, consistency requires:

  • Commitment. We will be dependable, reliable and responsible for our decisions and actions every single day. We’re committed to long-term success and will never take shortcuts.
  • Empowerment. We will encourage and build skills and habits that help us focus on our goals. We take responsibility as individuals and as team for our actions. No excuses. No complaints.
  • Mindfulness. We will be in the present moment while remembering our mission and vision. We encourage regular feedback and will learn from any mistakes.

What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.

Owning our process means developing consistently followed processes to ensure the best results from our daily work. It means recognizing that processes are not static and can be improved upon as needed as long as it’s done as a team and followed by everyone. Hard work pays off every day and means following through no matter the obstacles.

A process and consistency of that process removes uncertainty and builds trust. Printed words only mean so much – everyone should believe and own our processes – nobody is exempt.

Owning processes and being consistent means people:

  1. Understand the processes
  2. Follow the processes
  3. Give feedback on processes that can be improved upon
  4. Have patience when starting a new process