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  • Writer's pictureErika Clegg

Questions Answered: What are Ethos and Values?

We wanted to take a few steps back and look at the starting point for Larkenby’s work. Many of our clients are at the very beginning of a long journey, and part of their challenge is to draw people alongside them as they make that journey.

It can be hard to do this without the tools to explain their choices clearly, in a way that encourages involvement from busy people who may start the process unsure of its benefits. We want to empower those we work with to have these conversations with confidence and the necessary definitions and data to hand.

So over the next few weeks we are going to share some of the basic tenets of our practice, starting today with an explanation of what ethos and values are, and how they connect to form culture.


These are the things that are important to you - your principles and standards. It’s important to set values that you feel in your belly or you’ll find them hard to stick to.


This is the way your values come to life to form culture - you will need planned, tracked and managed activities in place to inform those behaviours, especially at the start of the process where nothing is intuitive and the benefits are yet to be seen.


A driving force that defines your approach, attitude and ambitions, this is the spirit of place. It is perceived from actions and implications.

Active Ethos

This is the whole thing - it is the process of defining and phrasing your values and bringing them to life fully and sustainably in every aspect of your organisation to deliver culture. We call it Active Ethos rather than Active Values because it’s very much about capturing that spirit of place and bringing it to life through values-driven behaviours.


This is the behavioural environment you create that carries your values through your people. This really is the big ticket item, which the 'active' part of ActiveEthos is designed to address. If you do not manage it, other factors will - hence the famous quote ‘culture is what people do when you’re not looking’.


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