LEADING OFF: CEO Challenge: Define Your Practice’s Core Values

Dr. Vargo

My challenge for you this month: Create a list of core values to guide decisions.


Have you ever found yourself unsure of how to approach a business decision, solve a problem or handle a customer service issue?

You may even have disagreements among staff on how to approach a situation.

Core values are comprised of words or phrases that reflect the principles that guide a company’s decisions and interactions. Without core values, it’s difficult for a practice to effectively make decisions regarding matters of importance, such as spectacle remakes.

An example: One of the core values at IDOC, where I work, is “Better together.” This phrase promotes an environment of teamwork and collaboration.

Let’s assume one employee asks another for help. Without clearly defined core values, that employee could respond, “That’s not my job.” In this case, the employee is not living the core value. Without this core value, the employee may feel justified in his/her response.


To create a list of core values:

  • Meet with the leaders in your practice.
  • Communicate why your practice needs core values.
  • Thoroughly discuss what values most closely align with the culture you desire.
  • Narrow the list to three to five (more than that will be difficult to remember).
  • Communicate these to the entire staff.

Make sure these core values are continually discussed with the staff and consistently applied. Only then will they permanently impact the culture. OM

CORRECTION: In “CEO Challenge,” February 2020, p.13, the title should have been “Be More Likable.” This has been corrected online. Optometric Management apologizes for the error.