Along the vertical axis is the extent to which people report being clear about their organisation’s values. Along the horizontal axis is the extent to which these same people report being clear about their own personal values.
Leaders who model the way make two commitments in word and deed. Such leaders find their voice by clarifying their personal values and setting the example by aligning actions with shared values.
Now, look at where the highest level of commitment is. The people who have the most exceptional clarity about both personal and organisational values have the highest degree of commitment to the organisation. Also, consistent with previous studies, the researchers confirmed that individuals who are unclear about their own and the organisation’s values have only a modest commitment and are apt to be particularly alienated from their work.
No surprises yet, now take another look. The lowest level of commitment is in the upper left corner high clarity about organisational values but low clarity about personal values. Does this not make you a bit curious? The second highest level of commitment is in the bottom right corner high clarity about personal values but low clarity about organisational values. What you may find significant and important here is that people who know what they believe but have never heard the corporate credo or statement of values are more likely to stick around than those people who have listened to same but have never worked out the own personal values. Put in another way; personal values are the route to loyalty and commitment.
How can this be you may ask? How can people who are very clear about the own values be committed to a place that has never posted its organisational values? Think about it a little. Have you ever felt that “this place is not for me?” Have you ever walked into a place and immediately get a sense that “I do not belong here” and just walk right out? And the other hand, have you ever felt that you belong, can be yourself, and that, “this is the right place for me.”
This is the way it is with a workplace or any other place for that matter. There comes a time when we just know whether the place is or is not a good fit with our values and believes even if there was no lecture on the organisation’s values. People will not stick around the place for a very long time when they feel in their heart and soul that they do not belong. Clarity about personal values is more critical in our attitudes about work than is clarity about organisational values alone. Ultimately, it is people who decide if the organisation is a great place to work.
Those individuals with the most precise personal values are better prepared to make choices based on those values-including deciding whether the values of the organisation feet with their personal values. None of this is to say that shared values do not matter. They do. People want to be part of something larger than themselves. What we are saying, however, is that people cannot fully commit to an organisation or a movement that does not fit with their own beliefs.
Leaders must, therefore, pay as much attention to personal values as they do to organisational values if they want committed and dedicated constituents. Paying attention begins with the leader first clarifying his personal values, then helping the constituents to do the same.