Tag Archives: Values

A Marriage of Convenience? Why Our Relationship With Work is Broken (Part 5)

The results are in.

The data is clear.

And the message is unconvincing…

Results of last week’s survey suggest that you have a pretty healthy relationship with work:

  • A vast majority (86%) of you understand the mission of your organization beyond financial success
  • Two-thirds of you (66%) feel your work is an extension of who you are and not some other thing you have to do, just to make ends meet
  • About a third (34%) of respondents still believe a single job should span most, if not all of a career and also about a third (38%) of respondents have done just that, having worked in the same organization for 16+ years…

Let’s sum up… our readers understand what their organizations are trying to achieve, feel their work enriches who they are and most either aspire to, or have, attained long tenures with the same organization.

BUT (you knew there was a ‘but’ coming) the data also suggests our relationship with work might not be as harmonious as we’d like to think it is.


  •  Individuals and organizations did not agree with a single core value
  • Ordering of values varied drastically, except ‘integrity’ which ranked high on both lists.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve interviewed top executives or heads of HR and listened to them tell me that people were their #1 asset and that they hire only the ‘best people’, people that shared their values! Similarly, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve conducted ‘comparative values’ surveys, only to find that what organizations and employees value to be entirely different.

Let’s put it another way. If you were selecting a life partner, wouldn’t you require some alignment of your core values? Certainly.

Yet, most of us are willing to accept a long-term relationship with little alignment of our core values – our relationship with work.

So…do values matter or have careers become a marriage of convenience?

As always, I welcome your comments and questions, directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com. Until next week, this is Jeff Kaplan, reminding you to Stay Connected!


I Feel Like I Don’t Even Know You: Why Our Relationship with Work is Broken (Part 4)

What does your company stand for?

Not what does your company sell…

Not what does your company do….

At the end of the day, when we’ve folded up all the spreadsheets, what is your organization all about?

While a few of us would have no problem answering this question, far too many of us can’t.

Sure, we make products or provide services valued by some set of consumers… but is that really what we are spending our lives doing?

For a growing number of workers, the answer is NO… and that’s a pretty good indication that your relationship with work is broken.

Do you feel like you don’t even know your organization anymore, or maybe you never did?

Does what you do for a living align with who you are and what you hope to be… take this simple survey and we’ll share the results with you next week…

As always, I look forward to hearing what you think at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Stay connected,


For an audio version of this blog, click HERE!

Getting to the Real YOU!

Take the 3-minute Values Alignment Test 

Understanding the differences between your values, how your boss acts and what your company says it values is a critical career insight…

The following terms are a compilation of the values we’ve assembled from periodicals, assessments and books – which is a fairly broad representation of possible categorizations.1


  1. Create three columns on a piece of paper.
  2. Label column 1 “You”, column 2 “Boss” and column 3 “Company”.
  3. Select the three values mostimportant to you from the list above and place them in column 1.
  4. Select the three values leastimportant to you and place them at the bottom of column 1.
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 in column 2 for the values your boss exhibits every day and the values she/he rarely exhibits.
  6. Lastly, do the same for column 3 based on what you think is important/not important to your organization.

Here’s how it should look before you fill in the values:

2So…. Are your three lists identical?

I didn’t think so…

If you are like most people, you’ll probably be surprised by the outcome.

Take a moment to examine the biggest differences and determine how you might use the gap as an opportunity to advance your career, support your boss or drive organizational success.


  • If your organization values mentorship and you don’t, what actions might you take to become a proficient mentor?
  • If expertise is highly valued but you feel softer skills are more important to you, you might consider opportunities within the organization and different roles or functions that rely less on the technical aspects of your industry and reward you for what you value.
  • Let’s say you value enthusiasm and optimism, while your organization prefers cautious responsible hard work. Are there other places, functions or roles in the organization that would benefit from your natural energy?

EXCEPTIONAL LEADERSHIP is the product of purposeful self-discovery.

Without a clear understanding of what you value, how can you make informed career decisions or inspire others to adopt and follow your leadership vision?

As always, feel free to share your thoughts and questions with me directly at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.


Do You Belong Here?

Few topics stir more emotion than organizational culture. Over the last year, we’ve spent a great deal of time examining what organizational culture is and how it affects individual performance and health.

Here are a three fallacies of organizational culture to consider:

  1. Organizations Have One Culture = FALSE

Organizational culture is an elusive, transitory and intensely personal description of the characteristics of your workplace. Within any given organization, Culture varies over time and differs across departments, functions, hierarchical levels and geographic locations, among other factors. In practice, organizational culture is in the eyes of the beholder – it is the aggregation of how you and others in your organization perceive it.

  1. The Larger the Organization the Less Important the Individual = FALSE

A commonly held belief is that the sense of belonging, so often associated with start-ups, is lacking in larger organizations where people can often feel isolated, unappreciated or worse – unnoticed. In practice, organizational culture in larger enterprises is a mosaic of micro-cultures created by the regional or functional areas and often fostered by the executive in charge – change the executive and change the micro-culture.

  1. My Values Must Align with Organizational Values = FALSE

Most organizations, explicitly or implicitly operate with a formal hierarchy and an informal network organization. Hierarchies are designed to keep the factory running while networks are designed to assess and respond to environmental changes. So, when it comes to values, the more aligned you are, the better positioned you are to work within the hierarchical structure of the organization. The more aligned your values, the better you fit with the rhythm of the business – the way the business is run today. The less aligned your values are with the organization’s, the more likely you are to provide the networked side of the organization fresh ideas and new ways of thinking(innovation) and working (collaboration).

If you find yourself asking do you belong here, it’s worth exploring how you, as a leader, can become an agent of change and right the wrongs you see in the system. Sure, some people and organizations just don’t mix, but before you jump ship, consider how you might turn a cultural mismatch into a career accelerator by considering the fallacies of culture discussed here.

Have an idea or story about culture that you think should be included in our work?  Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with me at jeff@jeffkaplan.com.


The New Leadership Challenge (Part 1)

A Sneak Peak at Leadership Research Findings

After interviews and conversations with 100’s of top executives from 26 countries around the globe, it has become clear that business as we know it is on the way out. In its place is a new type of enterprise that looks less like an assembly line and more like a community; a place where care, fun and yes, even love, have a place.

While this new world order of business promises levels of professional freedom and opportunity our parents never imagined, it also redefines the concept of a career and demands new skills for success. Achieving success in the future is what the New Leadership Challenge is all about.

Our research has identified the 11 essentials for becoming an effective leader in this new environment.

The first 4 steps deal with becoming an introspective leader – getting clear about who you are, what you care about and what you want:

  1. Personal Inventory: Great leadership comes with reflective honesty and self-appraisal, taking the time to specifically define our strengths and weaknesses AND the courage to validate your findings with others is the first step.
  2. Values: It’s not what you have, it’s what you do with what you have that matters and VALUES drive ACTIONS. List the 5 things you value most (in order of importance) and use that list to guide your actions.
  3. Unique Ability: We are many things, but each of us possesses unique talents, driven by our passions and what we value. Chicago consultant Dan Sullivan suggests that finding your unique talent is a key to unlocking your leadership potential.
  4. What Success Means to You: Success is NOT a destination. Success is an aggregation of effort, time and lots of lesser successes. Take a moment to define what success means to you and make an effort to become successful each day. Then every night ask yourself, was I successful today?

Next week we’ll provide the rest of the list (several of which will likely surprise you) and offer concrete ways to begin taking action to rapidly accelerate your vision of success.

AND… keep those cards and letters coming! Don’t hesitate to share your perspectives by writing me at Jeff@jeffkaplan.com.