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Designing our own path at work through core values

In a study by Sidney Yoshida – called “The iceberg of ignorance” – the biggest cultural disconnect that exists is the one between leaders and front-line staff. Interestingly, senior leadership and employees have different points of view; but both of their points of view are essential for sustained success.

Undoubtedly, it is the responsibility of CEOs and leadership teams to drive business culture by showing actions, not intentions. A large part of this is how they create the right company culture for their employees. But how can we, as employees, contribute to this and align our own career path with our core values?

“Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilisation work.” – Vince Lombardi

Understand your core values

73% of purpose-oriented people are satisfied with their jobs and feel more fulfilled (according to LinkedIn). To become purpose-oriented, you need to understand your values. How? Adam Grant suggests making a list of the things that hold the greatest meaning to you and then asking yourself, “why?”. When you’ve got an answer, ask yourself “why?” again, and again, and again - until you come to an impasse. That’s when you’ve identified a core value that is intrinsically significant to you.

A compass for our life

Align your core values with what you do

60% of people seek a better fit between their own and corporate values, beliefs and behaviours (according to Richard Edelman).

Not only do core values help you clarify your purpose, but they’re also a personal evaluation tool for actions you take. Think about it - do your actions reflect your core values? Here are a couple of simplistic examples – say you value work/life balance, but you’re sending emails at midnight to your team, or say you value collaboration but hold back from sharing ideas in team meetings. In both examples, the message sent is in inherent conflict with your core values.

Awareness is the first step; taking action is the second - Design your own path

Often, we have life constraints and commitments – financial or otherwise – and these don’t always give us free rein to pursue our core values. So how about finding a way to connect parts of your work that you feel aren’t meaningful to a core value? You could design your own path through what Amy Wrzesniewski and Jane Dutton call “Job Crafting”.

Job crafting is a simple framework that involves taking a step back from the day-to-day, reshaping the parts of your work to create a more fulfilling experience. For example, if you value relationships, position yourself to take a more active role in the aspects of your role that have a degree of connectivity.

People who try job crafting often end up more engaged and satisfied with their work lives, achieve higher performance levels in their organisations, and report greater personal resilience.

Know when to walk away

One in five workers had either left their job or are planning to leave in the next six months. It isn’t always as easy when what the company does and how it acts doesn’t align with your core values, or you don’t get the internal support you need to reshape your role at work. This is predominantly the driver behind the ‘Great Resignation’. So if the company you’re working for doesn’t measure up, look for a role with one that does.

The global pandemic has been instrumental in getting us to evaluate our purpose. As individuals, we are drivers of our own actions and can determine role we play in business culture. Put it into practice, and you’d be surprised at the impact small steps can have on the whole.


Written exclusively for the Bessern Community

Managing Director @ The Cornerstone Advisory


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