The Power of Values

Values gain great potency from the behaviors and actions that bring them to life. When actions/interactions are aligned with, endorse, foster or promote important values, they have the power to optimize human and organizational capacity beyond imagination.

However, when behaviors and actions are incongruent and/or antithetical to important values, they have the power to disillusion, demobilize and even destroy the potential capacities of human beings and organizations altogether.

Values Can Motivate, Engage and Optimize Performance

Values represent one of the most significant corner stones of the employee’s experience regarding what is most important to them. When workers hold important personal values and can maintain alignment/connection to them in the context of their work, they are more likely to be highly motivated and engaged to perform optimally.

Most employees choose a certain job because, in some manner it espouses or endorses values that are in line with their own personal values. Organization and function choices are also often based on a preference or match between personal and company values. When members operate within alignment of personal, professional and organizational values, there is rarely a lack of passion when the work is being carried out.

When it comes to motivating members to perform nothing is as powerful as the cultivation and/or mobilization of PASSION. Passion usually arises from personal purpose, but more importantly, it originates from the connection employees feel when there is an alignment between their personal values and organizational values and priorities.

Value-Incongruence as an Organizational Killer

Values are so critical to the importance and meaning that work holds for employees, it shouldn’t be a surprise that, “Value-Incongruence” is one of the Top 5 Organizational Killers. Yes, Killers. When employees perceive that they are operating, or expected to operate out of step with their value-set, it can result in a variety of negative implications. When personal values are perceived as being incongruent with function/company values, depending on the degree and duration of incongruence, employees can experience a range of feelings that range from slight disconnection to disillusionment and even demoralization.

Part II of this discussion (coming soon) will present a detailed 4 part, step-by-step process for operationalizing values in practice. All Leaders can enhance their capacity to build on and leverage values in order to optimize engagement, performance and the attainment of preferred employee and organizational outcomes.

Important Considerations and Leader Reflections

  • Given that values are only words until your actions give them meaning, consider this: What meaning do you give your values?
  • What do unit/function/organization values mean to you? What meaning do they hold for your team members?
  • Consider the following question for individual and/or team discussion: What values of the organizational values do you value most and why?
  • Connecting ourselves and our members to important values can serve as a potent source of motivation and engagement. Where do members feel most aligned? Where do members feel less aligned?
  • Consider a Values Reflection as an individual and/or team building exercise

Find A Great Values Reflection Exercise HERE

The Values Reflection Exercise is a simple way of reconnecting leaders and their employees to their own personal values; to what gives their lives and work the most meaning and value. It is helpful to know where, when and why we feel the most motivated and engaged at work, with certain people, in certain situations. Conversely, it may be more important to figure out when, where and why we might feel less engaged and passionate in and/or about our work.

Stephen de Groot is the Principal Designer and Facilitator of Leadership and Organizational Development for some of Canada’s Greatest Corporate and Human Service Organizations.

de Groot’s Book, “Responsive Leadership”, a SAGE Publication, will be available summer of 2015.

Stephen can be reached at