14 October 2021
Let's talk about values in leadership.
Workplace environments have been evolving dramatically for over a decade. We've seen a shift toward closer collaboration, increased awareness of the importance of EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion), a move away from hierarchy, a wider pool of opportunities, and more competitive job perks. All of these amount to what we call 'company culture'.
We wanted to uncover how leadership within drastically changes company culture and values inform it. To do this, we need to understand what company values are? Who defines the company values of an organisation, and why? Who do the values apply to, and how are they rolled out within the business? And what is the impact on the company, from operational and customer experience perspectives?
Company values in context
To begin exploring the answers to these questions, we could start by saying that company values are a set of principles that guide decision-making at all levels. They create a sense of what's right and what's important to the business. Examples of values could be as simple as open communication and acting with integrity.
A company defines its values so that leaders and employees from all levels may align their actions, performance, client relations and overall attitude with the organisation as a whole. Values form part of the solid-rock foundation that underpins the culture, which is fluid and evolves with the times.
More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated drastic changes within the workplace. This has exposed weaknesses and, for some businesses, strengths in the effectiveness of company values and how they are put into practice.
According to David Phillips, Managing Director of ILM, "Rapidly evolving workplaces require new leadership skills that accommodate agile and shifting working practices and build consistent ways to ensure people are feeling connected back to the workplace. This can be answered, in part, through values."
What's clear is that it is the leader's role to embody the values of a business, especially in challenging times, so as to provide a beacon, in a sense, for employees from all organisational levels to follow.
To quote an interview that we conducted with Jonathan Finkelstein, CEO of Credly: "Management and executives also have to live the values… At Credly, all conversations are informed by values. If there is a desire to roll something out, but it's not consistent with the values, this presents a challenge too. How does a company advance in alignment with its values? It's vital that the values are relied on to do what's important, and also what is right."
Coming soon! A global report on Leading Through Values
For us at ILM, our objective is to support businesses in harnessing these skills and behaviours in their people. Which is why we set out to explore and discover ways that company values are already in place or being created in businesses – especially during and post-COVID. We dissected how values are being brought to life in everyday operations and how they've withstood the challenges faced during the pandemic.
We spoke to 7 leaders who shed light on how company values were an integral part of their leadership models. We are excited to be launching our leading through values report in November 2021. In the report; we'll look at all the questions being asked about company values and expand on how values ultimately play an essential role in:
- Defining organisational purpose and goals
- Standardising strategy and operational delivery
- Directing learning and development
- Performance management
- Talent attraction, recruitment and retention
- Improving customer relations
If you're interested in learning more about #leadingthroughvalues and how your organisation will benefit, stay tuned for the report and join our conversation in November.