Creating a values-driven organisation

These days, we have to be much more conscious of the importance of values at work. Values impact your relationship with employees, partners and customers, as well as your company’s purpose and its place in the world.

So, this month, we look at creating a values-driven organisation to leverage competitive advantage and provide a meaningful place for your employees to work. Read on to find out more…

Creating a values-driven organisation

“Values are a short-hand method for classifying beliefs and behaviours that an individual or group consider important”
Cultural Transformation Tools (CTT)

What have personal values got to do with work?

Evolution of Paradigms
This diagram shows how business paradigms have evolved over the years:


Agrarian age
Survival was dependent on physical strength and the ability to work the land.

Industrial age
With the advent of the manufacturing production line, work became about efficiency and process, and employees were rewarded for contributing their skilled labour.

Information age
Until about ten years ago, knowledge was power, and it was intellectual capital that made employees marketable.

Consciousness age
With the Internet explosion, everyone has access to information so we’re moving into a new consciousness age.

Key words that expand these ages are:


Companies retain the strength of the previous age and build/evolve.

People want to feel a connection with the company that employs them, and to do work that helps them lead a fulfilling life. Employees are more likely to have a fluid approach to work and life, feeling much more comfortable about changing jobs and taking time out, such as for a sabbatical. It’s also much more likely that an individual will change their career path. Young talent won’t be a slave to work.

The only constant nowadays is change – aligning your organisation’s values with those of your employees will help you embrace all that’s powerful in today’s environment.

7 Levels of Consciousness model

This is a framework for understanding how individuals, teams and organisations develop and grow.
Source: Cultural Transformation Tools (CTT)

Personal context

According to this model, everyone has four basic needs, which are the basis for human motivations (building on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model).
Once one level of need is met we can move to the next level.

PHYSICAL (level 1 of consciousness model)
Survival: Health, safety, security.

EMOTIONAL (levels 2 and 3)
Relationship: Sense of belonging, open communication.
Self-Esteem: Sense of own self-worth.

External – Intellectual stimulation from external factors such as work and the community.
Internal – Personal growth for yourself, linked to your beliefs and assumptions about yourself and the world around you.

At this level, an individual has let go of the need to control, and embraces and explores bigger subjects so they can live a bigger life.

SPIRITUAL (levels 5 to 7)
Meaning: Sense of meaning derived through work or other activities.
Making a difference: Sense of being able to change things for the better.
Service: Sense of making a contribution to the common good or assisting others without thought of reward for yourself.

Organisational context

In the same way that individuals move through the levels, so too can a company.  The levels below describe the key words identified with each of the levels – as a company develops its “cultural capital” it builds as it goes i.e. it keeps what’s good about each of the levels and adds cultural capital as it progresses up through the levels.

SURVIVAL (level 1)
The organisation is focused on profit and shareholder value, but this can lead to over-control within the culture.

Companies keep the foundations for survival and also start to focus on relationships – customer satisfaction, open communication and respect.

SELF-ESTEEM (level 3)
The organisation becomes focused on efficiency, productivity and quality.  If overdone, this can lead to bureaucracy and over time, complacency.

At this level, organisations transform – they ‘let go’ of the negative values and behavours that can be associated with levels 1-3 (e.g. bureacuracy will be replaced with accountability). The focus becomes on retaining the healthy factors of levels 1-3 and adding innovation, diversity and teamwork within the company. The values that underpin this process are challenge, courage and risk-taking. This culture enables employees to experience more profound personal growth and development with the company – a shared journey that deepens trust and organisational loyalty.

MEANING (level 5)
Internal cohesion becomes a core focus at this level, with integrity, co-operation and a shared vision being present. The values of an organisation are being lived to such an extent that everyones knows what to do and how to work together (without the control and bureaucracy that may be associated with levels 1-3).

Organisations at this level are focused on making a difference: key to them are employee fulfilment, environmental awareness and strategic alliances. Strategic alliances are likely to be created with other organisations, who work together to achieve greater results, create new markets, and leave a bigger footprint than if they worked individually.

SERVICE (level 7)
At this final level organisations are concerned with ethics, future generations and the long-term perspective. There is deep wisdom and personal humility.

Organisations that are conscious at all 7 levels are far more sustainable.

Practical tips

  • As a leader you will have the biggest impact on the culture of your organisation (see my article on ‘What’s the role of the leader‘). This model provides one way for you to think about where your organisation currently is and what value the next level will give you.
  • In addition, as a leader, take some time to consciously think about what your personal values are as these will be shaping your leadership style – who you are determines how you lead. Do your employees share your values? What are the differences and how can you create the optimal environment for them?
  • In my personal experience, companies who operate at level 4 and above provide a fulfilling place for employees to work. They grow both personally and professionally and have a bigger impact. What can you do to create a culture that enables your employees’ personal growth?
  • Understand and respect the values of your employees – there’s no right or wrong, and values are fundamental to a person’s sense of self.
  • Set your organisation’s values carefully and really live them.
  • Think about how you can make a difference through collaboration, whether inside or outside your organisation, to create opportunities that don’t currently exist (level 6). For many organisations, departments either compete or work independently of each other – true collaboration embraces a spirit of sharing and trust that provides a breeding ground for ideas and delivering innovation.  What external alliances can you create that will deliver something new?
  • Consider running a personal values exercise when building teams – it’s a great way to develop relationships and trust. Feel free to contact me for ideas about how this can be done.
  • Ideally, there will be alignment between personal and organisational levels, because that creates the most stimulating environment for employees. If you have employees at levels 5 to 7 but your company focus is on levels 1 and 2, they won’t feel a connection with you and it will be more difficult to hire and keep people.

I hope you find this information useful – I welcome your feedback. Feel free to share this with others who you think will find this interesting. Please let me know if you’d like to create a values-driven organisation. I’d be happy to help.

Next month, we look at How to build trust: the core of all relationships.