Knowing thyself

Our values lie deep within us only to be awakened by a hard decision, a moral dilemma, an injustice, or a manager’s careless response to a new idea. Values also stir when we create or encounter a vision we identify with, join a team that fits us so well we can’t really describe why, or when we see people appreciating our creation. Values are our primary source of energy to keep going or when necessary change directions. Some say that our values are set at an early age 13 or so, then school, fitting in, etc. distract us and our values sink deeper and we rarely think about them. Why does this matter?

Our values are a source of energy and to the extent we live in alignment with our values its like driving a golf ball in high altitude, or the zone a long distance runner enters when they feel like they could maintain the pace for hours, or being on a team that creates and achieves at such a high level that objectives are no longer relevant, its the work with these people that drives us. We’ve all entered the zone at times and we know it when we are there, but it doesn’t last and we may have no idea how we got there. The answer is you were functioning in high alignment with your values. What are some examples of values?

Here are some examples of values, and some of these play a key role in driving each of us at work. Which 2-3 really speak to you?

  • Need for approval, validation, and to be recognized by others.
  • Need for control, authority, and career advancement.
  • Need for fun and balance between personal time and work.
  • Need to help others, and improve society and the world.
  • Need to be with others and enjoy social interaction.
  • Need for ritual, traditions and respect for history.
  • Need for safety, security and risk mitigation.
  • Need for earning money, investments and seeking business opportunities.
  • Need for self-expression, design and appearance of our work and environment.
  • Need for rational expression, data, research and innovation.

We’ve incorporated values in FlightPath™’s assessment and coaching platform, and the results are used to help guide people to the organizational culture that fits them the best. At a minimum they see how their current culture fits or doesn’t fit them and by understanding they reduce the chance of burnout by realizing the reason things they deal with require so much of their energy. Knowing the culture and nature of work that is the optimal fit for your values is incredibly helpful when considering switching organizations. It rounds out the decision with an intrinsic reason for motivation. Money, title, prestige, brand are all extrinsic and less powerful after the excitement dissipates and regular living sets in. That is unless your dominate values are money, control and recognition than the extrinsic and intrinsic become one. That is pretty rare however, so let’s dig into this a little more.

Organizational culture and values fit

Consider 3 broad types of cultures and 3 individual value profiles.

a) an early stage company that doesn’t have as much structure, favors innovation and flexibility and carriers a high risk profile.

b) a mature, large lodging and tourism company that values customer experience, and teamwork.

c) a medium sized company that respects rank in decision-making and promotes and rewards based on individual performance.


Which individual do you think would be more fulfilled at which of the 3 organizations?

Sam would be the best fit for culture A – early stage company. The low priority of tradition and security coupled with higher science and affiliation create a nimble, casual work style comfortable with innovation.

Kat would be the best fit for culture B – mature lodging company. High preference for altruism, higher security is a good fit for a mature culture. Affiliation would lend Kat to working well as a team.

Rishy would be the better fit for culture C – medium sized firm. High power and commerce makes prepares them to prosper in a more top-down management style.

Values are not like skills and competency that you can shape and develop, instead its about knowing them and putting yourself in situations where you can be authentic and get down to work. FlightPath™’s consideration of values differentiates us in the coaching and talent development options. Our approach is more holistic and therefore valuable to organizations and its employees.

If your organization needs a hand thinking through and executing your talent management strategy let us know.


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