Over the last few weeks, several training and development e-newsletters and websites have featured articles on some interesting, and I must admit a little alarming, research. Employer's, Employees' Core Values Sometimes Don't Coincide shouts Chief Learning Officer. Value Divide reports Inside Training. The research, compiled by CO2 Partners of Minnesota, reported:
- 44% of Americans surveyed said they knew their core values and they were consistent with their employer's values
- 30% reported they knew their core values, but they are not always consistent with their employer's values.
- 11% said they were not certain what their core values are, but felt uncomfortable working for their employer.
- 10% said core values don't have much to do with the work they do.
Being clear on your values is essential to exemplary leadership. In The Leadership Challenge, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner write, "Values influence every aspect of our lives: our moral judgments, our responses to others, our commitments to personal and organizational goals. Values set the parameters for the hundreds of decisions we make every day."
In Model the Way, the first commitment is about clarification of your personal values; the second commitment is about aligning actions with shared values. During The Leadership Challenge® Workshop we do an exercise that helps participants get clear on their core values. Upon completion of the exercise, they have identified the five values that they believe define them at their core. The next step usually involves sharing these values with the other members of their organization in attendance, with an ear tuned for shared values. One option I often use is to have the participants write their five values on separate Post-it® notes. I then post the organization's values and invite them to "find a home" for each of their values within those organization values. I also include a chart labeled "no fit" for values they cannot find a match for. The posted charts provide visual evidence of shared values as we move ahead to aligning actions and behaviors. Generally, the "no fit" values are not a cause for concern. If there is a strong base of shared aligned values at the core, then there is plenty of room for the diversity of individual values.
Michael T. Neiss is a leadership and management development expert based in South Haven, Michigan. He has worked as a speaker, educator, coach, and consultant on leadership for over twenty-five years. He is also a Master Facilitator of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop.