By TAPE CEO/President Louisa Jaffe

Perhaps it is because of my military background, where solider conduct is paramount, that leadership values moved immediately to the forefront of our company at TAPE. As Bill and I established the company, we settled on the culture of values we would practice as a company and train our employees to practice. For me, TAPE’s values are much, much more than words on a page. They provide actual guidelines for how to lead and succeed within the company.

I’ve written on our internal blog about how the external customer is the reason we are in business. One of the TAPE values that relates to this is Respect Our Customer’s Mission: We approach every task within the context of the big picture. From a leadership standpoint, this is important because sometimes business developers new in business will work very hard to convince potential customers that they need whatever industry has to sell. But, at TAPE, our value takes us in a different direction, which is to start with the customer’s mission.

What does the customer need? What are the challenges they face with whatever solution they have now? We focus on keeping the customer’s mission at the center and at the heart of all we do. It’s important that we apply this value as a leadership tool, so that our employees know that they are also empowered to lead within the context of the customer’s mission.

There was a national slogan back in the 1970’s under President Jimmy Carter’s administration, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the pollution.” Using that idea applied to engendering creativity, the alternative is to stifle creativity, resulting in an atmosphere where people only do what they’re told. That will never lead to innovation, only people responding like robots. Innovation, new ways to look at things, is essential, especially in this technological era. This is why at TAPE, we trademarked our employee byline, “Each One: An Entrepreneur®.” I encourage all of my employees to use TAPE values to develop their own creative solutions to their customer’s challenges, often times before their customer may even know that they may need one.

Establishing and communicating your company’s values empowers leaders with a sure compass to steer their ships through stormy waters (to borrow a Navy reference!), because as long as we’re holding to our values, we’re going to make it through any weather that comes. What is a value that inspires you at your company? How does your company demonstrate its values?

To learn more about veteran-owned small business issues, see

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