The CEO’s ethical standards give rise to the Corporate Culture. To state the reverse, the Organization’s Values and Ethical Standards reflect those of the CEO, an individual, but the one with the most authority and power in the organization.
Core values are not relative, they are fixed. They are not goals.
In writing your core values consider how those statements will be reflected in observable behaviors and actions taken over the long term. (eg. What behaviors get rewarded?)
Here’s a couple of examples borrowed from Groen Brothers Aviation:
Value: Do the right thing
Which means that: As a corporation and individual, “we will always do the right thing”. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. It is easy, however, to know whether a course of action is right. If we ask ourselves, “is this right?” we already know the answer.
Value: We will listen
Which means that: We will listen to each other, our customers, our suppliers, and any other source of information and knowledge. We know we must continue to learn. We believe that knowledge is power. We will learn all we can about our industry and its needs. We will find out what our customers want and will give it to them.