What does it take to stay relevant in a complex environment?  Values alignment.

Are you struggling with leading your team or organization successfully in today’s quickly changing environment?  Are you finding it difficult to keep the team aligned, focused and on track?  You are not alone.  Navigating change is just as important as producing and delivering products and services.  To stand still is to be left behind.

Navigating change and staying relevant have something in common.  They require the alignment, focus and energy of you and your team.  This occurs through values alignment.  Values are one thing that stand true in the midst of change.  Harnessing those values – like capturing the wind in a sailboat’s sails – energizes the team and moves the organization forward.

What do values have to do with staying relevant?  Practiced values are the how we go about getting things done.  If something doesn’t align with our values, we feel out of integrity.  Ironically, it is this sense of integrity that supports us to feel good and energized about what we are doing.  It makes it more inspiring for us to contribute our strengths and much needed ideas. This power and the ideas that come with it are what is needed in our current world of complexity.  It takes all of us being aligned with our values to bring our whole selves to work, be creative and innovative, and sustain relevance with the quickly emerging environment.

Values keep us focused when things are changing around us.  Values are solid, like our North Star.  Values-based organizational cultures honour the values of their people.  Values alignment between the organizational values and the personal values of the people makes life and work meaningful and fulfilling for people.  Imagine a workplace where people can contribute their strengths and ideas while fulfilling their values and, thereby, propel the organization forward.

How can leaders lead in a way that supports this?  “People want to work for an organization that aligns  with their personal core values, and they’ll turn down contracts with companies that don’t. At the end of the day, if you have a strong company culture, hire to the values on which that culture is based, and reward the behaviors associated with those values through aligned processes and recognition, you’ll likely have more of the right people wanting to work for you.

Acquiring and retaining top talent definitely helps your business succeed. In fact, a recent study found that companies with a strong company culture in place saw four times increase in revenue growth and employees stayed twice as long as their counterparts.” (CPHR, 2019)

Wondering what your company culture might be?  Look at these four broad categories to get a general idea:  https://cphr.ca/blog/2019/08/28/1055/

This is not pie-in-the-sky.  Values-based organizations have been shown to outperform many others considered to be high-performing.  An excerpt taken from the Barrett Values Centre article”  “The Importance of Values in Building a HighPerformance Culture” By Richard Barrett, Founder of Barrett Values Centre® (https://www.valuescentre.com/wp-content/uploads/PDF_Resources/Additional_Articles/Article_Importance_of_Values.pdf):

“Our research, and that of others, shows that there is a strong link between financial performance and the alignment of an organisation’s cultural values with employees’ personal values. In other words, who you are and what you stand for is becoming just as important as the quality of products and services you provide.

In Corporate Culture and Performance, John P. Kotter and James L. Heskett show that companies with strong adaptive cultures based on shared values outperform other companies by a significant margin. They found that, over an eleven‐year period, the companies that cared for all stakeholders grew four times faster than companies that did not. They also discovered that these companies had job creation rates seven times higher, stock prices that grew twelve times faster, and a profit performance ratio that was 750 times higher than companies that did not have shared values and adaptive cultures.

In Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras show that companies that consistently focused on building strong values‐driven cultures over a period of several decades outperformed companies that did not by a factor of six, and outperformed the general stock market by a factor of fifteen. 

In Firms of Endearment, Sisodia, Wolfe and Seth shows that companies that care for all stakeholders equally—employees, customers, investors, partners and society—are committed to exemplary citizenship, and embrace servant leadership outperformed the S&P 500 and the “great” companies identified by Jim Collins in Good to Great by significant margins over the long‐term (See Figure 1). According to the authors, these companies had a humanistic soul.”

When we work with leaders on values-based organizational culture we look at what they want to achieve.  Having clarity about purpose and intention is the starting point.  From there, we assess the current aggregated values of their people, the practiced organizational values currently represented, and the desired organizational values.  This creates a report with helpful, current, relevant data.

Looking at the data/results of such a values  assessment, opens up dialogue around the data that represents the aggregated views of the participants.  It helps leadership to do a reality-check, understand areas of opportunity and growth, and choose where to focus to achieve their objectives.  Focus is on one to two changes a year – the highest leverage changes given the results, resources and objectives of the organization.  This, then, informs leadership and professional development training, coaching, process and procedure changes, recruiting and rewards.

Starting with an understanding of the whole system, from a helicopter viewpoint, allows key areas to be identified, analyzed, and actioned to create context, meaning and purpose to your culture, leadership and related and integrated objectives.

Values alignment is a company’s optimal way of staying relevant in a complex environment. When working conditions are challenging, knowing that you have the best possible people leading from their values is the best way to navigate the way forward.


CPHR Article:  https://cphr.ca/blog/2019/08/28/1055/

Quote taken from the Barrett Values Centre article”  “The Importance of Values in Building a HighPerformance Culture” By Richard Barrett, Founder of Barrett Values Centre® (https://www.valuescentre.com/wp-content/uploads/PDF_Resources/Additional_Articles/Article_Importance_of_Values.pdf) that includes citations from:

  • Richard Barrett, Building a Values-Driven Organization: A Whole-System Approach to Cultural Transformation, Boston: ButterworthHeinemann, 2006.
  • John P. Kotter and James L. Heskett, Corporate Culture and Performance, New York: The Free Press, 1992.
  • James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, New York: Harper Collins, 1994.
  • Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe, Jagdish N. Seth. Firms of Endearment: The Pursuit of Purpose and Profit. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Wharton School of Publishing, 2007.