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Values-Based Leadership: Shifting Company Values to Modern Labour Expectations

6 min read

New talent is looking for a role with like-minded partnerships where they can present themselves authentically, in an environment that reflects their values and where they feel included.

Randstad’s 2024 Workforce Monitor shows over a third of employees won’t accept a job if they do not agree with the views of an organization’s leadership.

The same study shows 54% of employees consider their employer’s stance and actions on social and political issues important. Likewise, 38% seek alignment on social and environmental issues when considering who they will work for in the future. This outlook among employees necessitates values-based leadership.

At its core, leadership must create a symbiotic relationship between the organisation’s values, its culture and decision-making processes.

Creating these values (then embodying them as a leader) provides the organization with a compass that guides all its employees’ actions and behaviors. Aligning decision-making with these values is what drives a sense of purpose – leading to higher levels of engagement and an overall sense of belonging.

This is born out in research. Gartner’s 2023 analysis finds employees who align actions with their values experience reduced stress and anxiety, leading to enhanced emotional well-being, resilience, and overall life satisfaction. This in turn contributes to higher productivity and reduced turnover.

Importantly, leaders who prioritize values-based decision-making are more likely to make ethical choices. This earns the trust of their team, stakeholders, and the employees in their organization. By fostering trust, leaders can more easily shift their company’s culture to one that reflects modern labor expectations.

Below, we explore the core components of values-based leadership to help leaders drive this cultural shift.

  1. Act as a role mode

    In driving change, leaders should exemplify resilience, flexibility, and an openness to risk, serving as role models for these qualities in the workplace. Research conducted by the European Commission shows leaders who are viewed as role models influence their employees’ values and attitudes, leading to higher engagement and productivity.

  2. Cultural competence

    Leaders should develop and promote cultural awareness and sensitivity within the organization to foster an inclusive environment that adapts to diverse needs and expectations.

  3. Build trust

    Focus on strategies that build trust throughout the organization, such as consistent behavior, integrity in decision-making, and clear acknowledgment of employee contributions. Since 2019, employers have been more trusted than governments, NGOs, and the media. Leaders now have an unprecedented opportunity to capture and embed that trust in their organizations.

  4. Transparent communication

    Implement transparent communication practices that keep all employees informed about changes and decisions, fostering a sense of involvement and ownership. Companies led by individuals who commit to open communication experience a 47% higher return to shareholders over a 5-year period.

  5. Articulate a vision

    Clearly articulate a compelling vision for the future that aligns with both the organization’s values and strategic goals, motivating employees to buy into the change. Companies led by leaders with a clear vision typically experience lower absenteeism rates and higher job satisfaction among employees.

  6. Guide, don't dictate

    Guide the change process by setting directions and providing support rather than dictating every step, allowing adaptations to be organic and driven by team insights. This type of inclusive leadership style with more shared decision-making has been shown to improve both employee engagement and retention.

  7. Responsive and authentic adaptations

    Ensure that changes in corporate culture are responsive to ongoing feedback and are authentic to the organization’s core values and mission, making them more meaningful and sustainable. Employees who feel their voices are heard are significantly more likely to excel, showing up to 4.6 times higher performance compared to those who don't feel heard. 

A path to values-based leadership

Systemic team and one-on-one executive coaching offer useful and holistic tools to help leaders embed a value-based leadership style within their organization. This is achieved by focusing on the interconnectedness of team dynamics, organizational culture, and leadership practices.

It involves facilitating dialogue and collaboration among team members to collectively identify and embrace core values, aligning them with organization’s goals and behaviors. 

Through systemic team coaching, leadership teams can cultivate a shared understanding of values, co-create strategies for implementation, and address systemic barriers or conflicts that may hinder the integration of values into daily operations.

This approach fosters a culture of self-reflection, accountability, trust, and transparency.

Importantly, it empowers leaders to model values-based behaviors, inspire their teams, and ultimately drive sustainable business success. 



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