Leadership with Structure, Part 1: Using Core Values as Your Foundation for Greater Growth

Are your core values setting your MSP up for success?


Are core values and company culture a top priority at your MSP, or an afterthought? For companies focused on hyper growth, having your core values not only firmly cemented but also applied and embodied on a daily basis should be a top priority.

Liongard founder and CEO Joe Alapat recently discussed the importance of living and breathing your core values with Sunny Kaila, founder and CEO of IT By Design. The two-part conversation provided a number of takeaways for MSPs looking toward sustainable growth. Listen to Part 1 >

The Role of Culture in Hyper Growth

Alapat’s previous experience running an MSP taught him valuable lessons about the importance of culture in a company’s overall growth. In Liongard’s infancy, a few mismatched hires early on were the catalyst for him and the Liongard leadership team to really dig into how they would define the company’s culture—and then use it to hire the best fits, who would play a role in reinforcing that culture every step of the way. This groundwork surely helped the company en route to becoming Houston’s fastest-growing company of 2020.

Kaila agrees that if you don’t have your culture right, you won’t be able to build the dream team that’s required for 10X growth. The first step to doing that? Defining those core values.

For IT By Design, that means HAPPY:

Your community

For Liongard, those core values are:

Listen & Learn
Adapt & Automate
Execute as a Team
Focus on Visible Progress
Teach and Lead

No matter the specifics of your company’s core values, it’s essential to continue beating the drum and making them a part of everything you do—otherwise, they’ll just become empty promises. 

How Core Values Can Guide Your Recruiting Strategy

Culture, based on your core values, plays an important part in the recruiting process. When hiring, Alapat evaluates how individuals embody Liongard’s. For example, do they “listen and learn” humbly, or is it all talk from the get-go? Are they willing and able to “adapt” as roadblocks come up? Would they be able to “execute as a team,” so everyone is rowing in the same direction? Using core values to guide how you recruit and hire helps avoid bringing in the wrong fit, whose personality or actions can disrupt and derail the entire vibe of the company.

For Kaila, the keys to success and sustainable growth come down to being intentional about each step of the hiring process: interviewing, onboarding, promoting and retaining people based on your company’s core values. Doing this makes it much easier to go out and accomplish your mission and make your vision a reality.

Strategies for Using Your Core Values in the Hiring Process

How do you bring your core values off the page and into your everyday operations? Alapat and Kaila use a number of strategies to help them figure out whether a candidate would fit in with their teams and cultures:

  • Ask inadvertent questions, then pay attention to how a person answers them. Words can reveal a person’s true attitude.
  • Observe behaviors not directly related to the interview. If you’re out at lunch, notice how the other person treats the server.
  • Ask a candidate to tell you about something they’re an expert at—anything goes!—and teach you about it like you’re a fourth grader. It’s incredibly insightful to watch and listen to their explanation.

Whatever you see during an interview, positive or problematic, just imaging it magnified by 10—because that will be the reality if that person joins your team. Using your core values to lead your search and evaluate potential hires is an effective way to minimize making a hiring mistake.

Read more about Liongard’s core values to see how they align with those of your MSP. Then, check out Part 1 of Joe Alapat’s chat with IT By Design’s Sunny Kaila for more insights on the importance of living and breathing your core values.


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