Working with values has been rocketing for years; it is quite a hot topic.

Usually, it is the top management that goes through his exercise and determines a set of values. Then these values are communicated to all employees. Many companies or government organizations often open all registers: professional posters, cards, brochures, video messages and all kinds of reminders are skilfully spread all over the organization. After that, the formal internal communication machine is switched on: major assemblies, breakfast sessions, meetings and so on.

In this ideal scenario, because there are many which keep it limited to just a few modest steps, no cost or effort is spared to convey the message. Great is the disappointment when it turns out afterwards that the average employee is unable to repeat the values, let alone tell what they mean in concrete terms. Values have become paper tigers…

Based on our experiences with dozens of value projects over the past ten years, we would like to share some tips with you:

  1. Values are strategic items and must be formulated in terms of mission and strategic objectives.

  2. Determining the values is a matter of top management and no practice in democracy.

  3. The management’s exemplary function is important: they must be the first to explain the values to their immediate employees and formulate clear expectations.

  4. All executives and employees must be involved in translating the values into specific behavioural characteristics.

  5. Working with values is not a “project”, but a cultural feature. In all aspects, the values must be integrated: recruitment of new employees, internal promotion, commercial communication, etc.

The power of personal values

How is your self-knowledge? Do you have a clear picture of what is important for your life and what is less or not important? In other words: do you have a list of personal values with a hierarchy? For a manager, this is essential. The better you know who you are and what matters to you, what values you strive for, the better you make good decisions in a complex and contradictory organization environment.

People can only be motivated and involved in an organization if their tasks and activities are in line with their personal priorities.

Tip: make a list of 10 personal values and let your employees create such a list too. Discuss these value lists with each other. It will remarkably improve mutual understanding and cooperation.

The authors James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner turn to 30 years of research – over 1 million answers from leaders all around the world – to determine 10 fundamental truths about leadership. These are still, and regardless of the situation, applicable.

It is no coincidence that attention is also paid to commitment driven by values.


These ten truths about leadership are:

  1. You make a difference: before you lead, you have to believe that you can have a positive impact on others.

  2. Credibility is the foundation of leadership: if people don’t believe in you, they won’t willingly follow you.

  3. Values drive commitment: people have to know what you stand for and what you believe in. You must know the values of the others so you bring those in line with the organizational values.

  4. Focusing on the future sets leaders apart: create a view of an inspiring future and share it with the others.

  5. You can’t do it alone: leadership is a team sport, leaders care about what is best for others, not about what is best for themselves.

  6. Trust rules: it keeps individuals and groups together. The level of trust is decisive for your influence. Trust must be earned before they grant it to you.

  7. Challenge is the crucible of greatness: great achievements don’t happen when you keep things the same.

  8. You either lead by example or you don’t lead at all: deliver on your promises and be a role model when it comes to values and agreements.

  9. The best leaders are the best learners.

  10. Leadership is an affair of the heart: making others feel great and show appreciation. A leader is connected with the organization through their heart.

These ten truths may seem quite natural, applying them isn’t.

Read more

The Truth about Leadership


The answer to this question is: sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.

This makes it clear to me that a perfect match with the ideal competence cocktail of knowledge, skills and attitude does not provide a fool proof guarantee for achieving the desired results. So, we can critically ask ourselves whether a manager’s degree of competence is the determining factor after all. Does this mean that it does not make sense to improve the competencies of leaders? Of course not, but the direct correlation with the hard results is not evident nor obvious.

Having the necessary skills for the job as a manager is the starting point of a winding and uncertain course, but does not guarantee a successful arrival with applause at the finish line. This is a very important conclusion at the leadership development level.

5 tips on leadership development in your organization (based on our experience in guiding dozens of real-life cases):

  1. The ultimate goal of leadership development is to achieve the desired results. All efforts must be aimed at that ultimate goal and not at the intermediate steps.

  2. Everyone should be at the same page. The best strategy for confusion and energy loss: have a number of executives take a medium-term training, send senior executives to a prestigious institution, leave certain groups to their fate and have others take a two-day in-house training.

  3. In line with your strategic priorities, create a clear image of the desired leadership style in your organization. What are the clear expectations? What measurable output do you expect?

  4. In line with this leadership style, a learning process can be developed and this in cascade for everyone. Top managers are involved, but also the team leaders with the lowest ranking actively take part. It is essential that the organizational culture is directed consciously.

  5. A learning process is no training or course. Be innovative and open all registers and provide a result-oriented mix of mentoring, pear learning, coach the coach, blended learning, measurement tools, creative workshops, dialogue sessions with employees and so on.


Obviously, the necessary competencies remain important both for those who becomes a team leader or manager for the first time as for those who take the next step in their career. Take on a new leading role is an important challenge. 50% of the ‘new’ leaders fail in the first 18 months which is mostly due to mistakes made in their first 100 days.

In their book (“The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan”. How to Take Charge, Build Your Team and Get Immediate Results, the three experts G. Bradt, J. Check and J. Pedraza provide practical guidelines to successfully complete the transition to a new leading role and to achieve the desired results. Here, leadership means creating an environment where the team achieves extraordinary results while having a lot of fun. Leadership is not about yourself, but about the people you are leading. What matters most is what they hear, feel and believe and how they work together as a team.


10 Tips to achieve the best results with a new team

  1. Create your new leadership role: understand and know your own leadership qualities, abilities and limits.

  2. Identify and avoid the most common pitfalls: lack of a clear, precise and winning strategy, unaligned expectations, resources or stakeholders, failure to collect information on the 5 Cs (customers, collaborators, capabilities, competitors, conditions) and inability to achieve results.

  3. Take charge of your own start. This starts from the moment you qualify for the new leadership position.

  4. Decide on how to deal with the new culture. Culture is defined here as: being (how the people are, with the prejudices, assumptions, intentions), doing (behavioural standards) and saying (mission, stories).

  5. Take the lead from Day 1: make a powerful first impression.

  6. Establish a strong plan before Day 30. This plan consists of: mission, vision, objectives, strategy and values.

  7. Develop key milestones in terms of team performance before Day 45.

  8. Over-invest in quick wins to strengthen the trust before Day 60.

  9. Anchor among employees the right roles with the right support before Day 70.µ

  10. Develop employees, plans and processes to achieve results in changing circumstances after Day 100.

Read more in the summary of the book.

The New Leader s 100 Day action Plan




A director of a major bank recently told me that he is currently struggling to defend his company against the critical remarks of clients, neighbours and friends. Besides the known problems, this is another threat to the sector. Employees lose their connections with the company and have trouble to emotionally identify themselves with the organization.

We can easily expand this issue to all organisations and sectors. To what extent are our employees proud of the company they work for? To what extent will they recommend others to get a job there? To what extent do they agree with the vision and direction of the organization?

Employees who are not enthusiastic and proud of the company they work for will not be very high-performing and will not strive for maximum customer satisfaction. One of the causes of insufficient pride is the finding that the company does not work and act professionally enough. In a next phase, people also think that they are no longer working professionally themselves. This low self-esteem completes the circle.

It is therefore important to create a culture where professionalism is key and where everyone has a warm heart for the organization.

Research shows that only 17% of employees believe that their leaders envisage the importance of the organization. Only few people are still convinced that companies are choosing the right course and there is a lot of cynicism about current affairs. According to author Bill Wiersma (The Seven Mind-Sets That Drive Performance and Build Trust), the solution is more focus on “professionalism” in the organizational culture.


Professional ideals immediately correlate with success, both for individuals and for organizations. Why? Because a culture based on professionalism leads to trust. Trust is the emotional adhesive that supports your priorities, protects your self-interest and ensures respect for your values.

Three elements are needed to build trust: character, competence and insight. And trust is the key to an attractive culture with extraordinary results.

The 7 mindsets of trustworthy professionals.

Mindset 1
Professionals have a feeling for results.
Achieving sustainable results is, as a matter of fact, proof of reliability.

Mindset 2
A professional puts the interests of the organization (or client) before the self-interests. Their commitment is strong and people can count on their unconditional dedication. Moreover, they are outstanding team players.

Mindset 3
Personal growth and development are essential for professionals and often the result of their dedication and efforts.

Mindset 4
Professionals usually have high standards and these are an integral part of their character.
Professionals with this mindset:

  • Have a personal set of values

  • Do the right business with a long-term vision

  • Are above ‘fights’ and are focused.

Mindset 5
Professionals are aware that personal integrity is invaluable.
In practice, this means authenticity and honesty, delivery on promises and refusing to break the trust of others.

Mindset 6
Professionals strive to master their emotions instead of becoming a slave to them.
Showing respect in very difficult situations, staying objective and controlling the ego are crucial in gaining respect.
Passion for your work, your values, your ideas and your employees are beautiful emotions.

Mindset 7
Professionals strive to recognize the value of others and see no problem in the development and success of others. Since they are feeling good in their skin, the success of others is no threat to them.

Read more in the summary of the book.

The Power of Professionalism


In a study, dr. Bruce Katcher from Discovery Surveys give another 4 tips to improve the pride of employees.

  1. Communicate the organization’s past. Employees want to be part of a tradition that can exceed the daily working day. People proudly tell stories about the pioneering time of the founders (“started out in a garage”) or how they managed to overcome setbacks (“we only had 10 customers left”). A moving company video with a captivating story or a book about the organisation with its history and gripping pictures may help people identifying themselves with the organization.

  2. Celebrate success. People are proud to be part of a winning team. Seize all opportunities to communicate success to all employees. Also use your own newsletter, but also make sure you get coverage in different media.

  3. Give back to the community and society. Employees are proud of an organization that makes a difference. Support organizations financially, or even better, motivate employees to contribute to specific projects that support the local community during working hours.

  4. Highlight your added value. Make it clear to your employees what exactly is the organization’s added value. What are the strengths? What are we good at? What are remarkable achievements that are highly appreciated by customers?