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Excerpt from book: Encouraging the Heart

Encouraging the Heart by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner page 51-52 copyright © 2003 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published by Jossey-Bass. Reprinted wtih permission by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

This book, Encouraging the Heart, can be purchased directly from this website through the Business Tips & Resources Page.

Page 51 - 52

Personal values matter most when it comes to making a commitment to an organization. Tony Codianni says that "different people are motivated by different things. I have to understand their core values." As authors Hal Zina Bennett and Susan J. Sparrow point out, "If we are primarily leading our lives according to other people's conditions, it is virtually guaranteed that we will not be giving our all. Because we'll not be working in a way that allows us to best access our personal resources and abilities, we will be producing at less than our optimal levels in our jobs... an important part of who we are simply is not engaged."

Yet we don't always put this knowledge into practice. We all know organizations - perhaps even our own- that send a team of executives off on a retreat to create a corporate values statement. They return with credo in hand, print it on posters, laminate it on wallet cards, make videotapes about it, publish it in the annual report, hold training classes to orient people to it, and chisel it in stone in the heeadquarters lobby. Then they wait for commitment to soar. It doesn't. And it won't.

These efforts are probably a huge waste of time and money unless there's also a concerted effort to help individuals understand their own values and examine the fit between theirs and the organization's. We aren't suggesting for one second that organizational values are not important. But organizational values are only one side of the equation. Commitment is a matter of the fit between person and organization, and personal values drive fit.

The implication for leaders is that a unified voice on values results from discovery and dialogue. Leaders must engage individuals in a discussion of what the values mean and how their personal beliefs and behaviours are influenced by what the organization stands for. Leaders must also be prepared to discuss values and expectations in recruiting, selecting and orienting new members. Better to explore early the fit between person and organization than to find out, late in some sleepless night, that we're in violent disagreement over matters of principle.